Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Four women convicted of gang assault in Newark

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Four young women from Newark, New Jersey, were convicted of gang assault on Wednesday in the beating and stabbing of an independent filmmaker in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, last summer.

The jury rejected their contention that they were defending themselves against an anti-lesbian attack.

One of the women, Patreese Johnson, 19, was acquitted of attempted murder, the most serious charge in the case. Prosecutors said she had stabbed the filmmaker, Dwayne Buckle, in the abdomen with a steak knife that she carried in her purse. Johnson contended that she had only tried to cut Buckle's arm to keep him from choking two of her friends.

Along with gang assault, the jury found Johnson, who is 1.5m and weighs less than 45kg, guilty of first-degree assault, which carries a penalty of five to 25 years in prison.

The young women sobbed and wailed "No-oo!" "Mommy!" and "I didn't do it!" as Justice Edward McLaughlin of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ordered them jailed until their sentencing next month.

Johnson, who worked as a night cashier at Wal-Mart, turned and mouthed "I love you" to a sister, brother and cousin in the spectator seats.

The trial attracted attention because both sides framed the case as a hate crime involving lesbians and a straight man. The other three defendants, Renata Hill, 25; Terrain Dandridge, 20; and Venice Brown, 19, were convicted of second-degree gang assault and face three-and-a-half to 15 years in prison.

Buckle, 29, of Queens said he was sitting on a fire hydrant and handing out DVDs of one of his films outside the Independent Film Center at Avenue of the Americas and West Third Street just before 2am on Aug. 18 when the women walked by him and he made a flirtatious remark.

He testified that they then attacked him without any physical provocation on his part.

The women contended that Buckle made crude sexual advances, and when they told him they were not interested because they were lesbians, he spat at them, threw a cigarette and tried to choke two of them.

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