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Man gets five years in beating of deaf teen

April 25, 2007


SAN DIEGO – A mildly retarded man who participated in the beating of a deaf teenager because he didn’t like the way the victim looked at him was sentenced Wednesday to five years in state prison.

Jesse Russell Ross, 21, pleaded guilty Oct. 24 to assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious injury.

In December, Ross was evaluated by prison officials to determine if he was a suitable candidate for probation or should be sentenced to prison.

Defense attorney Milly Durovic unsuccessfully urged Judge George “Woody” Clarke to place Ross on probation and sentence him to a year in local custody.

“This young man is retarded,” Durovic said. “I think there’s some confusion in this man’s mind. He didn’t know this victim was deaf.”

The attorney said the defendant’s psychiatric and psychological problems had never been addressed fully and to send him to prison would basically “throw him away.”

Ross’ mother died when he was 12 and his father belittled him, Durovic told the judge.

“His whole life has been riddled with failure and humiliation,” the attorney said.

A “tremendously difficult” life was made more so when Ross dropped out of special education classes, his attorney said.

The attorney said Ross was in a group of people who beat Loro Bureng as he played basketball with friends at Rosa Parks Elementary School in City Heights last Aug. 13.

But Deputy District Attorney Danielle Hickman said Ross was prone to anger outbursts and confronted Bureng for no apparent reason and beat him, breaking his eye socket and nose.

The victim’s family, refugees from Sudan, is still afraid and doesn’t understand why their son was attacked in the first place, Hickman said.

The judge acknowledged that Ross suffers from at least mild retardation, but said the attack on the victim was “simply not justifiable.”

Clarke noted Ross was on probation for shoplifting at the time of the attack.