Four of the five men charged with malicious harassment after being arrested for beating a man in the street at 10th and Pike as they yelled hateful epithets last month pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Justin Echols, 22, Trey Amberson, 22, William Berger, 21, and Zachary Kocikhill, 21, entered the not guilty pleas against the charges of malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime statute. Aaron Nelson, 21, is scheduled to enter his plea next week.
Police say the five violently beat a 20-year-old black male with their fists and a skateboard while shouting “nigger” and “faggot” in the late-night May 29th incident. According to the police report on the beating, the victim said he did not know the five men and did not know why he had been targeted but said he had punched a female previous to the fight after she had called him a “snitch.” Police say witnesses told them the group had been harassing people in the area before violently turning on the black male.
Police documents and records show the five are each either homeless or from out of state and traveling in Seattle.
If convicted on the hate crime charges, the men will face sentences between three and nine months.