Oakland salon beating case in court

July 31, 2009 7:30:06 PM PDT
The owner of an Oakland salon severely beaten in May during a videotaped attack is questioning why the Alameda County District Attorney's office has decided to file only misdemeanor battery and false imprisonment charges against suspects Cavenia Bryant and Jaymillya Edgerton.

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The I-Team was at the courthouse Friday for what turned out to be an angry confrontation between one woman charged in the beating and the victim's family.

I-Team cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom, but it was a tense scene with salon owner Melissa Seals seeing defendant Bryant for the first time since the attack in May.

Seals described seeing her attacker in court as "disgusting."

"I mean, after what happened, I just feel like she's sitting in the courtroom and she's smiling and laughing," said Seals. "That's not funny. There's nothing funny."

Bryant and Jaymillya Edgerton are charged with misdemeanors -- battery and false imprisonment -- for a five-minute attack at the Oakland salon in May. They ganged up on Seals, punched her, kicked her, and prevented her from leaving. A friend videotaped the beating and put it on the Internet.

In court Friday, the judge assigned Bryant a public defender and set her next court date.

"No thank you, I don't want to talk on TV," said Bryant when we approached her.

Later, she did offer to speak on camera, if we paid her. We declined.

For her part, Seals is upset that Bryant and Edgerton are facing only misdemeanor charges.

"The other girl and Cavenia [Bryant], they're both only being charged with those two charges. I think that that's crazy, that's crazy," she said.

ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson agrees.

"This is clearly felony conduct, not only was there a vicious beating here, but there was a premeditated element," said Johnson.

Johnson was a long-time prosecutor in San Mateo County, and he sees at least three felonies on the tape -- assault, false imprisonment by violence or menace, and conspiracy.

"When you assault somebody and videotape it and then put the videotape on the Internet, you're adding insult to injury, literally," he said. "You're also saying to authorities in effect, we dare you to do anything. If I'm the prosecutor, I'd take that dare and I'd put these two on a bus to state prison."

Alameda County district attorney Tom Orloff refused to appear on camera or allow any of his staff to. But off camera they defend not charging felonies, citing the lack of injuries and the lack of a weapon.

Prosecutors could amend the complaint to include felonies -- we'll get back to you, if they do.

As Seals and her family left court, they had an angry confrontation with Bryant. Seals' older sister warned Bryant that they will see justice.

"We're going to pursue it in a legal manner or if we don't pursue it in a legal manner, we'll see you around Oakland," said Seals' sister Nicole McGee.

Police are still looking for the other suspect. Edgerton has a warrant out for her arrest.

If you have any information, call the police, or you can also call the I-Team at 1-888-40-I-TEAM.

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