Man wants teen hate crime conviction changed


Matthew Monfredini was 17 at the time. He was one of about 20 people, all of them white, who attacked a group of Asian-American teenagers. Monfredini was the only one the victims could identify. The judge ruled he was guilty of felony assaults and hate crimes after a highly publicized trial.

Monfredini is now 23 years old. He served his sentence of 100 hours of community service and he completed his probation. His attorney says the young man has turned his life around.

"He graduated high school, he's graduated from college; he's now starting out in the business field," George Beckwith said.

Monfredini now wants the court to reduce his felony assaults to misdemeanors, drop the hate crime conviction and have his record sealed. Prosecutors object, saying hate crimes are serious cases.

"All violent cases are serious, no matter what happens," San Francisco district attorney spokesperson Seth Steward said.

The case is being heard by Judge Kevin McCarthy, the same judge who ruled six years ago that Monfredini was guilty, calling the crimes, "The most despicable behavior one can imagine."

The attack happened June 2003 in the Sunset District near 19th Avenue and Taraval Street. Many of the white students had been drinking at a keg party in Stern Grove and some of them ended up at a nearby pizza shop. The assailants confronted five Asian-American teenagers on the street.

The victims say their attackers yelled racial slurs before they beat them up. The incident lasted maybe ten to 15 minutes, but the victims say for them, what happened here would last a lifetime.

"It's like a scar in my memory, you know, it's something I'll never forget," victim Ken Zeng said during the trial.

Jeff Woo was beaten and kicked repeatedly. Woo and his family members came to the hearing Friday to show their opposition to Monfredini's request. Woo did not want to talk about it, but his father said the attack changed his son's life.

"There's no longer that feeling that he world is that safe; you're always on guard," Bill Woo said.

"Nothing can take back what he took from those boys; he took their youth and he took their innocence," Lawyer Edwin Prather said. Prather represented the victims at the trial.

Monfredini's attorney says his client has every right to ask the court to change his record. In fact, he says the probation officer supports it.

The hearing was continued until January.

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