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Attorney wants case against assault suspects dropped



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Seven people accused of assaulting a gay neighbor and his partner appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, and at least one of their attorneys wants the case dropped.

Attorneys for the defendants say their clients are the victims in the case. Five of them appeared in court together: Lulu Latu, Lisa Aiono, Marsha Finau, Angelina Dibella and David Mageo. Two others, Ricky Peace and Ietitaia Nuusila, are in custody.

Prosecutors charged some of the with riot, others with aggravated assault, for allegedly beating David James "DJ" Bell and his partner, Dan Fair, in their home after a Fourth of July party in 2008.

The attorney for Lisa Aiono says according to the District Attorney's Office, the defendants did nothing wrong, and now they're changing theories. He says charges should never have been filed.

"Maybe there's two wrongs here, but two wrongs don't make a right, and that's our position. The district attorney said they are the victims," explained defense attorney Clayton Simms.

The charges were a welcome reversal for Bell, who stood trial for kidnapping and burglary in September of 2009. His former neighbor, Lulu Latu accused Bell of taking her daughter and nephew. She said she found the children crying in Bell's bedroom.

A jury acquitted Bell of the charges, but Bell says he still fears for his life.

He says he's been taunted, and there have been threats made against him on websites like Facebook. He says he would like to see plea deals in the case to get it over with.

"I've been the victim of two crimes: one, an assault; and the other, a lie that caused my trial in the first place. And it's destroyed my life, and I want to get it back," Bell said.

"We are very sincere about seeing our attackers put behind bars," Dan Fair said.

Meanwhile, Latu's attorney says it's frustrating that Bell and Fair are able to get their message out online.

"One of the reasons why it was so important was first to gather support and also help people understand what happened and the situation here, but now we can't do that," said defense attorney Taylor Hartley.

Defense attorney's say the district attorney's office told them charges would not be filed. A spokesman for that office told KSL those are vague allegations and there's nothing to substantiate them.

The defendants will be back in court in July. The judge ruled they are not allowed to have contact with the alleged victims in the case.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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Sandra Yi

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