18-year-old charged in hate crime for spitting on and threatening gay couple
A teenager has been charged with hate crime charges after allegedly threatening and spitting on a gay couple.
Samuel Blake Wickwire faces two felony counts of criminal threats and two of violation of civil rights.
His charges include a sentencing enhancement for hate crimes.
If found guilty, he could face up to six years in prison, says the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
A co-defendent in the case, James Rutledge, 27, of Seal Beach, was previously charged on 5 December.
Rutledge pleaded not guilty to one felony count of dissuading a witness by force or threat and one of hate crime assault.
He faces up to seven years in prison should he be convicted.
According to prosecutors, on 3 November, the pair approached two men in a parking garage near 10th Sreet and Ocean Avenue.
They then allegedly made anti-gay comments about the couple’s relationship.
Prosecutors added that the pair threatened violence against the couple if they refused to leave.
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According to authorities, Wickwire spat on one of the victims, and Rutledge grabbed the other’s phone out of his hand to stop him from calling the police.
He eventually gave back the phone, but police said he told the victim to “leave and not call the police.”
Prosecutors added that Rutledge slammed the car door on the victim’s arm after shoving him into the passenger seat and shouted at them to leave.
Police in Seal Beach investigated the case, identifying Rudledge, and Wickwire was identified through further investigation before being arrested on 10 December.