Man slain defending homeless man: 5 attackers convicted FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 18:32:45 -0400


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=46IVE MEN CONVICTED IN SAMARITAN'S SLAYING

By Maria Elena Fernandez and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 7, 1998; Page B01


In the end, it did not matter to the jury who was individually
responsible for stomping Warren Helm, kicking Warren Helm
or stabbing Warren Helm.

All that was relevant was that all five men on trial were
participants in the brutal death of Helm, a 28-year-old divinity
student who came to the rescue of a homeless man who was
being savagely beaten.

The five men -- Carlos Alberto Robles Benavides, Oscar
Villatoro, Santos Felipe Bonilla, Luis Adonay Perez and Jose
Roberto Salamanca -- were convicted yesterday in D.C.
Superior Court. Salamanca was convicted of assaulting the
homeless man and obstruction of justice, and he faces a
maximum of four years in prison. The others were convicted
of first-degree murder and will each serve a mandatory
minimum of 30 years.

Superior Court Judge Mary Ellen Abrecht will sentence the
men, all in their twenties, in January. Except for Bonilla, who
is from Silver Spring, the defendants are from the District.

The families of the men sobbed in disbelief outside the
courtroom, saying the verdicts were unjust because the two
men who stabbed Helm to death fled to El Salvador and
cannot be extradited. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony
Asuncion said, and jurors outside the courtroom agreed, that
each of the men on trial participated in the incident and,
consequently, in Helm's death.

"This is a case about mob violence," Asuncion said. "Not only
legally, but morally, if you are one of the people who is
stomping, punching or kicking Warren Helm as he is being
stabbed, then you are responsible for the actions of the mob.
Every single person in that mob contributed to the death of
Helm."

Asuncion and D.C. police Detective Norberto Torres both
said it was difficult to witness the effect the verdicts had on
the relatives and girlfriends of the men. Villatoro's mother
clung to a wall, wailing, as her husband fought back tears and
told Torres his son did not deserve the maximum punishment.

But testimony during the trial revealed that Villatoro instigated
a fight inside the Diversit=E9 Bar and Grill that night. Then, after
the club closed and the group was thrown out, Villatoro
picked the fight with the homeless man across the street. As
the group beat and kicked the man, Helm and three friends
drove by and tried to intervene.

"This hurts me because I've known a lot of them for a long
time," said Torres, the police department's gang intelligence
expert. "But that is life. I agree with the verdict. They don't
listen. You talk to them, and it goes in one ear and out the
other. I mean, it's justice, but I take no pleasure in this."

Helm, a theology student at Virginia Union University in
Richmond, was home March 15 on break. He and his friends
got out of the car on 14th Street NW and yelled for the men
to stop beating the man.

The gang, joined by several other men, turned on Helm and
his friends. Helm's friends ran to their car, but Helm didn't
make it. Some of the men grabbed and beat him as others
broke a window on the car with a concrete block and pelted
the vehicle with kicks and punches. A passenger was stabbed
in the hand.

Helm's friends, fearing for their lives, drove away. Helm
broke away and ran along 14th Street banging on the windows
of passing cars, begging for help. Nobody stopped.

Helm kept running, and his path eventually was blocked by a
car driven by Bonilla with Benavides, Salamanca, Walter
Velasquez and Douglas Ventura as passengers. Police believe
Velasquez and Ventura fled to El Salvador, which forbids the
extradition of its citizens.

According to trial testimony, the men jumped out of the car
and joined the others who were beating Helm. Benavides and
Velasquez argued over who would get to stab him. Velasquez
and Ventura stabbed Helm six times as the others continued to
punch and stomp him. Another man who tried to intervene
testified that the mob kicked Helm harder when he pleaded
for them to stop.

Helm's mother, Sheila Graves, declined to discuss the verdict.
Asked whether the verdict made things easier for her, Graves
said no.

"I never forget that a person on trial has people in their lives
who love them," Asuncion said. "I hear their cries, but I also
hear the cries of Sheila Graves."

END FORWARD
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
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=46WD


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>FIVE MEN CONVICTED IN SAMARITAN'S
SLAYING


By Maria Elena Fernandez and Peter Slevin

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, November 7, 1998; Page B01=20

</paraindent>


In the end, it did not matter to the jury who was individually

responsible for stomping Warren Helm, kicking Warren Helm

or stabbing Warren Helm.


All that was relevant was that all five men on trial were

participants in the brutal death of Helm, a 28-year-old divinity

student who came to the rescue of a homeless man who was

being savagely beaten.


The five men -- Carlos Alberto Robles Benavides, Oscar

Villatoro, Santos Felipe Bonilla, Luis Adonay Perez and Jose

Roberto Salamanca -- were convicted yesterday in D.C.

Superior Court. Salamanca was convicted of assaulting the

homeless man and obstruction of justice, and he faces a

maximum of four years in prison. The others were convicted

of first-degree murder and will each serve a mandatory

minimum of 30 years.


Superior Court Judge Mary Ellen Abrecht will sentence the

men, all in their twenties, in January. Except for Bonilla, who

is from Silver Spring, the defendants are from the District.


The families of the men sobbed in disbelief outside the

courtroom, saying the verdicts were unjust because the two

men who stabbed Helm to death fled to El Salvador and

cannot be extradited. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony

Asuncion said, and jurors outside the courtroom agreed, that

each of the men on trial participated in the incident and,

consequently, in Helm's death.


"This is a case about mob violence," Asuncion said. "Not only

legally, but morally, if you are one of the people who is

stomping, punching or kicking Warren Helm as he is being

stabbed, then you are responsible for the actions of the mob.

Every single person in that mob contributed to the death of

Helm."


Asuncion and D.C. police Detective Norberto Torres both

said it was difficult to witness the effect the verdicts had on

the relatives and girlfriends of the men. Villatoro's mother

clung to a wall, wailing, as her husband fought back tears and

told Torres his son did not deserve the maximum punishment.


But testimony during the trial revealed that Villatoro instigated

a fight inside the Diversit=E9 Bar and Grill that night. Then, after

the club closed and the group was thrown out, Villatoro

picked the fight with the homeless man across the street. As

the group beat and kicked the man, Helm and three friends

drove by and tried to intervene.


"This hurts me because I've known a lot of them for a long

time," said Torres, the police department's gang intelligence

expert. "But that is life. I agree with the verdict. They don't

listen. You talk to them, and it goes in one ear and out the

other. I mean, it's justice, but I take no pleasure in this."


Helm, a theology student at Virginia Union University in

Richmond, was home March 15 on break. He and his friends

got out of the car on 14th Street NW and yelled for the men

to stop beating the man.


The gang, joined by several other men, turned on Helm and

his friends. Helm's friends ran to their car, but Helm didn't

make it. Some of the men grabbed and beat him as others

broke a window on the car with a concrete block and pelted

the vehicle with kicks and punches. A passenger was stabbed

in the hand.


Helm's friends, fearing for their lives, drove away. Helm

broke away and ran along 14th Street banging on the windows

of passing cars, begging for help. Nobody stopped.


Helm kept running, and his path eventually was blocked by a

car driven by Bonilla with Benavides, Salamanca, Walter

Velasquez and Douglas Ventura as passengers. Police believe

Velasquez and Ventura fled to El Salvador, which forbids the

extradition of its citizens.=20


According to trial testimony, the men jumped out of the car

and joined the others who were beating Helm. Benavides and

Velasquez argued over who would get to stab him. Velasquez

and Ventura stabbed Helm six times as the others continued to

punch and stomp him. Another man who tried to intervene

testified that the mob kicked Helm harder when he pleaded

for them to stop.


Helm's mother, Sheila Graves, declined to discuss the verdict.

Asked whether the verdict made things easier for her, Graves

said no.


"I never forget that a person on trial has people in their lives

who love them," Asuncion said. "I hear their cries, but I also

hear the cries of Sheila Graves."


END FORWARD

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is=
 distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in=
 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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