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January 10, 2008

Baker's Dozen fracas update

San Francisco Chronicle:

New Year's Eve marks the first anniversary of the big San Francisco versus the Baker's Dozen attack that made headlines across the nation - but for all the shouting, the case remains pretty much in the slow lane.

It started with the Yale a cappella singing group and local Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School alumni exchanging words and shoves during a party in the Richmond District. It escalated into the criminal realm when one of the SI crew called for reinforcements, who drove up in a van and allegedly kicked the stuffing out of Yalie Sharyar Aziz Jr., breaking his jaw. Initially written off by police as a teenage dustup, the incident exploded when Aziz's parents went on national TV saying the cops were ignoring the assault and that the whole thing started after the Yalies sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The resulting furor was kind of garbled if you know the local landscape - somehow, the westside Catholic SI boys were supposed to be anti-American thugs - but it got City Hall's attention. The resulting investigation eventually involved more cops, more time and more travel than most of the city's murder cases.

In the end, only two alleged attackers were charged - Brian Dwyer and Richard Aicardi - and not for breaking Aziz's jaw (he couldn't identify his attackers), but for having allegedly punched another Yalie, Evan Gogel.

The case has been on hold since charges were filed in March, thanks largely to the decision by Aicardi's defense attorney, Jim Collins, to hold off going to trial until after the November elections so the case wouldn't become a political football.

The Aziz family's lawsuit against Dwyer, Aicardi and three other alleged attackers has been going slowly as well. Not much can happen until the criminal trial is held, and the preliminary hearing in the case isn't scheduled until mid-January. Aziz family attorney Whitney Leigh said that the Yalies are still hoping for "justice sooner rather than later," and that no matter how long it takes, the case is "the subject of significant attention for anyone interested in how the justice system works in San Francisco."

Collins wants the case resolved as well, but for a decidedly different reason. "This is much ado about nothing," he said. "Two groups of teens who had been drinking and got into a fight. That's it."

Posted by acapnews at January 10, 2008 12:33 AM


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