“I lost everything that night,” Prince said in a slightly slurred voice during his March 22 testimony. “I’m paralyzed the entire left side of my body, even my face... I can barely walk now. I used to be able to run fast.”
Since the June 8, 2005 assault in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Prince, 28, has had three surgeries to repair damage to his brain, though Dr. Gordon Anderson, the neurosurgeon who performed one of those operations, testified that Prince will never fully recover.
“He’s liable to have permanent deficits with his memory and his motor function on his left side,” Anderson testified on March 22.
Pomie, the sole defendant in the case, is charged with six counts of assault in either the first or second degree with four of those counts being assault as a hate crime. Allegedly, Pomie attacked Prince because he was gay. If convicted, Pomie, 23, could get as many as 25 years in prison.
Prince has no memory of the attack. He recalled saying goodbye to his brother on a Brooklyn bus at 11 p.m. on June 8. His next memory is waking up in an upstate hospital in July. The effects remain.
“I can’t sleep because my left side hurts and my shoulder hurts,” Prince said.
“As you sit there now are you in pain?” asked Thomas C. Ridges, a senior assistant district attorney in the Brooklyn prosecutor’s office, who is handling the case.
“Yes,” Prince said.
On March 20, the trial’s opening day, two witnesses to the assault testified for the prosecution and identified Pomie as the attacker.
Omar Bascombe, 28, said he was sitting with a friend outside his Brownsville home last year when he saw three men nearby making kicking gestures, though a short fence prevented him from seeing what or whom they were kicking.
“They were doing something like stomping and kicking,” Bascombe said. It lasted two to five minutes. They left though two came back in “under ten minutes,” Bascombe said.
“They went to the same place,” Bascombe said. “I saw them still stomping... I didn’t realize nobody was getting hurt. I was minding my own business.”
Mark Walters, Bascombe’s friend and the second witness, said he saw the same thing though he could not see what was being kicked. When he left Bascombe to go inside to get a shirt, he found Prince lying on the sidewalk.
“I saw Dwan,” Walters said. “He was laying face down on the ground. He had a little bit of blood on him.”
The two men moved Prince into a seated position and leaned him against a fence. At that point, Pomie returned, they said.
“Then we saw one person coming back which was this guy,” said Walters, 24, pointing to Pomie.
Bascombe said he prevented Pomie from beating Prince. Pomie turned to leave, but quickly turned back and “kicked [Prince] with his Tims,” referring to the Timberland brand of boots. “Then blood started gushing,” Bascombe said.
Walters said they asked Pomie why he had attacked Prince and Pomie responded, “Yo leave it alone son, the nigger’s gay.” Asked by Ridges if Pomie had used the word “gay,” Walters responded, “He said ‘He’s a faggot.’”
Walters testified that the final kick to the left side of Prince’s head was “so hard the gate was shaking.”
On March 22, Anderson, the neurosurgeon, said a kick to the head could have caused Prince’s injuries. “Could it have come from one kick to the head?” Ridges asked. “Yes,” Anderson responded. Both Walters and Bascombe picked Pomie out in a police line-up.
Kleon C. Andreadis, Pomie’s defense attorney, pointed out that Bascombe told a grand jury and the police that “I paid no attention” to what was happening.
“You said you didn’t know what it was because ‘I was listening to music,’” Andreadis said. “Is that correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Bascombe answered. “That doesn’t mean I didn’t see them there I saw them bashing something... I couldn’t see what they were hitting.”
“And whenever you saw a gesture you had no idea if contact was being made,” Andreadis said. “Is that correct?”
“Yes,” Bascombe said. “I just could not see the victim.”
Andreadis also got Bascombe to testify that much of what transpired happened behind him. Andreadis also questioned both men about their immigration status, employment, and other matters. The defense attorney’s intent seemed to be that their answers might lead the jury to question their credibility.
In a statement to police given last year, Pomie said he was in the area of the attack, but another man—Mark Taylor—was responsible for the assault. The man punched Prince once after he saw the gay man flirt with Pomie, the defendant said.
Prince said to Pomie, “You got your ass all out, like your butt all out,” according to the statement.
“I’m walking past him as he was saying that and it looked like he was trying to brush me with his hand,” Pomie said in the statement to police. “At the same moment there was somebody standing next to me named Taylor, in the street we call him Big Taylor, and he followed him.”
Once out of Pomie’s sight, Taylor allegedly punched Prince and then returned to speak with Pomie.
“Taylor hit the gay guy once and Taylor came back around the corner, he told me ‘Yeah he ain’t getting back up, he’s snoring around the corner,’” Pomie said in the statement. “‘He hit the concrete kind of hard. Go see if he’s alright.’”
When Pomie went to check on Prince, he said, he got into an argument with Bascombe.
“I said he should mind his business, the guy is gay and he came at somebody in a gay manner,” Pomie said. “He came at me wrong.”
Pomie said he felt sorry for Prince.
“I regret that for him, but I didn’t have nothing to do with it,” Pomie said.
The taped statement from Pomie was played in court on March 22.
The defense theory is that police and witnesses mistook Pomie for Taylor. To date, only the Pomie statement supports that. During his opening statement, Andreadis said, “By his own statement placing himself at the scene, one of he questions you are going to have to ask yourself is just being there mean he was involved?”
Andreadis said Pomie was in the neighborhood with his girlfriend to celebrate his daughter’s first birthday.
“You are being asked to believe that Steven Pomie took time out from that to engage in this horrible, despicable act,” Andreadis said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
The prosecution will rest on March 23 and the defense case is scheduled to begin then.