Seeing a bearded man wearing a turban and a robe, a Fresno man told his young friend: “ISIS, let’s get him.”
Daniel Coronel Wilson Jr., 22, and Alexis Mendoza, 17, first punched the 68-year-old Sikh man and then ran over the victim on a cold, foggy morning in southwest Fresno in December, according to a police detective who testified Tuesday in Wilson’s preliminary hearing in Fresno County Superior Court.
Fresno police Detective Haywood Irving’s account and that of the defendant’s two friends who placed the suspects at the crime scene were enough to convince Superior Court Judge Arlan Harrell to order Wilson to stand trial in the attack on Amrik Singh Bal, an incident that was captured by several private security video cameras and stirred outrage and fear within Fresno’s Sikh community.
Bal survived the Dec. 26 attack on Brunswick Avenue near Shields Avenue west of Highway 99. The two suspects were arrested three months later.
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The attack on 68-year-old Amrik Singh Bal was captured by several private security video cameras and stirred outrage and fear within Fresno’s Sikh community.
Wilson, who is free on $35,000 bail, sat alone at the defense table with his lawyer, Marina Pincus, of the Public Defender’s Office. In April, Mendoza committed suicide inside his family’s home.
In making his ruling, Harrell said there was sufficient evidence to order Wilson to stand trial on a felony charge of assault likely to produce great bodily injury. Because prosecutor Tim Donovan has alleged that the attack on Bal was a hate crime, Wilson faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.
Court records say Wilson had a previous conviction for possession of marijuana.
Wilson did not testify and Bal did not attend the hearing.
Harley Maldonado, a friend of the two defendants, began the hearing by testifying that Mendoza called him after the attack. He said he could hear Wilson because he was on speaker phone with Mendoza. The pair sounded drunk, Ramirez testified.
Maldonado testified that Mendoza told him that he had run over “a Hindu.” Wilson described the victim as ISIS and said it was Wilson’s idea to get him, Maldonado said.
The friend also recalled that both defendants told him that they punched the victim in the face several times before Mendoza ran him over.
Oh yeah, we got ISIS.
Daniel Wilson, according to his friend
“Oh yeah, we got ISIS,” Maldonado recalled Wilson telling him. But Maldonado also testified that it was not a hate crime because Wilson had friends who are Sikh.
Another friend, Nicholas Ramirez, testified that he also talked to the two defendants. He said Mendoza bragged about the attack; Wilson was quiet about it.
Because Bal only spoke Punjabi, Irving testified he used the victim’s grandson as an interpreter. Irving said Bal told him that he was walking on Brunswick Avenue to work when he was attacked around 7 a.m. At the time of the attack, Irving testified, Bal had a long beard and wore a turban and traditional Sikh clothing.
According to Irving, Bal was waiting for a ride to work when a black Dodge Challenger stopped near him. Bal told the detective a skinny kid and a heavy-set subject got out of the car and beat him with their fists. After the beating, the two assailants got back in their car. Bal tried to run away, but the car ran him over, slamming him into the pavement.
Irving said Bal remained unconscious on the roadway for six minutes until his friends, who were on their way to give him a ride to the farm he worked at, found him. He was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. He has since recovered.
Irving said he canvassed the area and discovered five private video cameras had captured the incident. He testified tipsters led him to Mendoza and Wilson.
During the investigation, Irving said Mendoza’s black Dodge Challenger was seized as evidence. A large smudge mark on the engine hood was consistent with Bal’s body sliding across the front end of the car, the detective said.
Police also confiscated data from the defendants’ cellphones that were later analyzed by the FBI, he said.