Bryan Stow and a Justice System that Is Criminal

On March 31, 2011, the opening day of baseball at Dodger Stadium, four San Francisco Giants fans, all paramedics, were there to cheer on their team.

As they left the stadium, in the parking lot, one of them, Bryan Stow, was attacked by a Dodger fan, who hit him so suddenly and with such force that Stow hit his head on the ground without being able to break his fall, which fractured his skull. But the attack didn’t end there. Once on the ground, Stow was repeatedly kicked in the head and ribs.

As reported by CBS Los Angeles, “Stow’s friend said he saw the assailant — whom he described as a Hispanic man between 20 and 30 years old — repeatedly kick Stow in the head with ‘full wind-up’ kicks after knocking him to the pavement with a ‘haymaker punch’ to the left side of his head.”

A witness to the beating, Joann Cerda, stood over Bryan Stow as he lay motionless, and said she saw “Blood gushing from his ears,” and didn’t think Stow was still alive.

The result was severe brain damage.

He was left unable to walk, lost motor skills in his arms and hands, and is incapable of carrying on a normal conversation, controlling his bodily functions or caring for himself. He will require long-term care and 24-hour assistance for the rest of his life. He has a confused short-term memory, which makes work impossible. The care he will need for the remainder of his life is projected to cost 34 million dollars.

At the time of the attack, Bryan Stow was a 42-year-old father of two young children, an 11-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl.

His aging parents’ lives have been transformed into that of full-time caregivers for their adult son. His children have half a father, his friends have essentially lost their friend, and his sisters have been devastated. At the home he shares with his parents, Stow must wear an adult diaper, cannot shower without help, can barely close his left hand, and because of his memory problems, has to be reminded why a plastic shunt protrudes from the base of his skull.

His medical care has already exceeded five million dollars and is estimated to end up costing an additional 34 million dollards over the course of his life, according to his family’s attorney, Tom Girardi.

Get the idea?

Now what punishment do you think Marvin Norwood, 33, and Louie Sanchez, 31, the two sadists who did this, deserve?

I’ll tell you what I think they deserve.

Sanchez, the primary assailant, deserves to be punched so hard in the head that he falls to the ground and his head smashes into concrete, and then violently kicked in the head three more times in the hope that he spends the rest of his life in diapers.

Of course, we don’t do such things.

Instead we sentence such human debris to prison.

So, then, how much prison time do Norwood and Sanchez deserve? Given the life sentence they imposed on Bryan Stow and his family, I cannot see an argument for anything less than, let us say, 40 years to life.

What they got was not close.

Norwood has been sentenced to four years in prison and Sanchez eight years. (Norwood’s time has already been served, but he is being held on a separate federal warrant on a weapons violation charge.)

As for restitution, that will be determined at a hearing scheduled for six months from now. Of two things, however, I am certain:

One is that they will have to pay virtually nothing approaching the needs of Bryan Stow. Yes, I know, they don’t have anything near millions of dollars. But they should be forced to pay some significant percentage of whatever they money they ever acquire to Bryan Stow. The notion that people who permanently hurt other people “pay their debt to society” just because society has paid to house them in prison is not only absurd; it is meaningless. Norwood and Sanchez owe “society” very little. They owe Bryan Stow a fortune, and being imprisoned does absolutely nothing to meet that obligation.

The other thing of which I am certain is that Norwood and Sanchez will be harmed financially far less than tens of millions of divorced men who hurt no one, yet suffered financial devastation in the nation’s family law courts.

Sanchez, the puncher and head-kicker, smirked during the heart-rending victim impact statements and the judge’s castigation of the defendants’ actions and unrepentant attitudes. That this man, who destroyed and damaged so many lives, will be out of prison in about four years mocks the notion of an American criminal justice system. The only valid part of that phrase is that our justice is very often criminal.

Louie Sanchez is why I so fervently hope there is a hell.

Until he goes there, however, we can help Bryan Stow and his family through support4bryanstow.com.

Dennis Prager’s latest book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” was published April 24, 2013 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com.

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  • Rose

    I will comment. In our system, many factors are taken into account at sentencing. Was alcohol involved? Any provocation? Etc. if you want a definite outcome for every crime or result, you might be happier with Sharia Law. And even Shariah Law has its exceptions. A beheading for murder might be postponed if the accused has young children who would be traumatized by the beheading of their father. It is often put off until the children become adults. I, too, believe capital punishment is a deterrent for some crimes but not all. Crimes of passion, those committed under the influence of drugs and alcohol, etc. are not reasoned out. This crime says a lot about the problem of rage in our country. A simmering rage often explodes over a somewhat petty matter. We have seen it in many cases, including this one and the Michael Dunn case.

  • Darren Perkins

    I think it’s also tragic that only one other person has commented on this article.

  • Darren Perkins

    We lock up people for longer periods of time for growing marijuana which to my knowledge never caused anyone any harm but basically murdering this man they will walk free in just a few years. This should be treated as murder. I don’t think their should be a distinction between premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder. Isn’t it the intent that really matters here. You don’t beat a man that savagely if you don’t intend to kill him. Maybe the next time they will be successful. The Sentence should be life without parole IMO.

  • Bob Olden

    It’s just tragic that in a nation with a justice system as highly developed as ours, justice is so poorly served. Without meaningful punishment for convicted criminals, we doom our society to greater and greater disregard for the law. I don’t care what statistics are quoted that the death penalty does not deter criminals from committing capital crimes (and the crime against Brian Stow was practically worse than murder), there has not been a real threat of capital punishment in the U.S. for decades.