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17-year-old who beat gay Sonoma teen apologizes

The mother of the Sonoma Valley teen beaten, robbed and assailed with anti-gay slurs earlier this year struggled for composure at a sentencing hearing in juvenile court Thursday as one of the attackers read her a letter of apology.

"If he does what he says he'll do, he's going to be on the right track," Kristin Land said. "If he doesn't, he'll be right back on the street, doing what he's been doing."

Land said the 17-year-old gang member, whose name has not been disclosed because he is a minor, earlier pleaded guilty to three charges. He was ordered Thursday to complete a program of counseling, education and vocational training at the Sonoma County Probation Camp.

The teen was one of several attackers who jumped and robbed Land's gay, 18-year-old son the night of March 29 at El Verano School. Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies initially took no report of the incident, but command officers later apologized and said the assault and robbery should have been investigated from the outset as a hate crime.

The second suspect arrested and charged in connection with the attack, Francisco Serna, 19, faces six charges. His trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 9.


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