A jury in Los Angeles took only 90 minutes to deliberate the fate of a firefighter for assaulting a woman for feeding stray cats in a West Adams neighborhood. Ian Justin Eulian faces up to seven years in prison for assault and battery on Rebecca Stafford over the altercation from nearly two years ago. The fireman's lawyer said his client received a raw deal from jurors, citing a Los Angeles Times news report.
The fighter was found guilty of "one felony count each of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury." Additionally, after deliberations, jurors believed it was true that the man was responsible for inflicting "great bodily injury" on the victim during the beating incident in the 2500 block of West View Street.
Eulian, 39, and his mother, Lonieta Fontaine, 70, were originally defendants to the September 14 beating that was caught on surveillance cameras posted in an alley. The footage shows the off-duty firefighter and his mom confronting the woman over feeding stray felines. As she sat in her Jeep, the trio exchanged words. Suddenly, the woman appears to throw something (later learned to be cat kibble for the stray animals) at the fireman.
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Fontaine intervened and began exchanging blows with Stafford. Suddenly, Eulian pushes his mom aside, lunges at the woman -- still in the vehicle -- and appears to throw a series of punches before dragging the woman out of the passenger compartment. He continues the assault until the woman collapses, apparently after having been knocked unconscious.
The mother then pulls her son off of the woman and he walks away. Next, they gathered her up and drove the woman to her home. Stafford told reporters that she doesn't recall being beaten, but was told by the couple that she tripped and fell.
At the first trial, the woman said that she was confronted by the firefighter in the past for feeding stray cats in the area. He complained to her that at least one cat attacked her dog. Additionally, he claimed the felines were "pooping in his yard." On the day the fireman beat the woman, she said she was not feeding strays at the time; she was looking for one that was unaccounted for.
The first trial ended in a gridlock. During that phase, prosecutors described the beating of the woman as "vicious" and "senseless." Eulian's mom was not retried again.
Robert A. Schwartz, Eulian's attorney, slammed the jury verdict. He claims the fire engineer is very disturbed over the outcome.
"Ian is crushed by the verdict. He's a kind, thoughtful person. He's done good all his life. He'd never been violent before.
"This was a farce. One hour, really, of deliberations? If a jury does their job and they reach a verdict, I can live with that. But when they just go through the motions, I do have a problem.
"It's basically the same case as we presented to another jury. This verdict undermines my faith in the jury trial system. There was a legitimate defense of self-defense and defense of my client's (then) 70-year-old mother."
Because the firefighter said he only beat the woman feeding the stray cats in defense of his mom, he and his attorney plan to appeal ahead of the June sentencing date.
[Photo via YouTube screenshot]