A Palos Verdes Estates liquor store owner who was living the American dream was severely beaten with a baseball bat wielded by one of three teenagers who entered his business on the 14th anniversary of 9/11, leaving the Muslim Pakistani immigrant with a shattered forearm and mental distress he suffers to this day, a lawyer for the shopkeeper told a jury Wednesday.
Lawyer Philip Cohen addressed a Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing opening statements in trial of 66-year-old Shuja Oberoi’s lawsuit against George Leventis and Nicholas Ferrera, who have both admitted liability in the case. The trial is to determine the amount of Oberoi’s damages.
“This was a sophisticated, horrible, almost deadly attack,” said Cohen, who told the jury that Oberoi was targeted because of his ethnicity.
Leventis derisively referred to Oberoi as “the Turk,” Cohen said.
Mattias Kelterborn, who was originally one of several other co-defendants in the case, also was present during the attack, the attorneys in the case all agree. Kelterborn is no longer part of the case.
The lawyers also concur that Leventis, who was 17 at the time, was the one who attacked Oberoi with the bat the evening of Sept. 11, 2015, at Golden Lion Liquor. Both he and Kelterborn were dressed in costumes and wearing skeleton masks, Cohen said. Ferrera had made several previous visits to the store prior to the attack to check whether other customers were present, according to Cohen.
Attorney Anthony Falangetti, on behalf of Leventis, denied race played a role in the attack, characterizing it as an aborted robbery attempt in which the perpetrators hoped to get not only money, but also liquor to bring to a high school party.
“It was a foolish plan,” said Falangetti, who referred to the trio as “knuckleheads.”
Falangetti said Leventis was a troubled youth whose behavior changed for the worse after his parents’ divorce. He eventually ended up in a continuation high school for a while, but returned for his senior year to his regular high school, Falangetti said.
Leventis began hitting Oberoi with the bat after the plaintiff began screaming, Falangetti said.
The first witness is scheduled to testify Thursday.
Leventis, Kelterborn and Ferrera were all prosecuted in Long Beach Juvenile Court and sentenced to a juvenile camp.
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