A new trial date has been set for the four men accused of attacking a gay couple last year after the closing festivities of Miami Beach Pride.
On the morning of Wednesday, July 3 the circuit court held a status conference in Miami on the matter. The case was continued until September, giving each party more time to conduct discovery and prepare their respective cases.
The new dates are September 5 for a status conference, at which time both parties will update the court on their progress in bringing the case to a resolution.
Should there be no plea agreement, the court set September 16 as the trial date.
The four defendants — Adonis Diaz, Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso Piovet, and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa — all in their early 20s, have pled not guilty.
The alleged attack took place when Rene Chalarca, 33, and Dmitry Logunov, 33, were leaving a public bathroom in Lummus Park in Miami Beach on April 8, 2018.
“We were walking and holding hands and needed to use the bathroom,” told SFGN last year. So the two of them stopped at public restroom as they headed home for the evening.
As Logunov walked out of the restroom he was allegedly called a “faggot” in Spanish, punched, and then beaten unconscious. His boyfriend at the time, Chalarca, quickly intervened, but three more men jumped in and began to attack them both.
“This was my first time going to gay parade,” Chalarca said last year.
Physically they’ve both recovered.
The attack was caught on camera and the four suspects have been charged with three counts of aggravated battery and a hate crime enhancement was added to the charges.
Dennis Gonzalez Jr., the attorney for the four men, declined to comment about the ongoing case before the hearing. However, one of the accused, Juan Lopez, wrote in February in Facebook post, “False hate crime claims ain’t a joke. I know first hand!”
Last year Gonzalez publicly defended his clients.
“All four of my clients condemn acts of violence toward anyone whether it’s motivated by hate toward the gay community, toward nationality or anything of that nature,” he told The Washington Post. “They come out and condemn that. We don’t believe there was any type of animus toward the gay community.”
The four men made the news again this week when SFGN reported that they were introduced and recognized at SAVE’s annual Champions of Equality Gala in Miami on June 14.
The now former executive director, Tony Lima, said on stage at the gala: “Finally, tonight we are joined by four young men wrongfully accused of a hate crime in Miami Beach last year. Juan, Adonis, Pablo, and Luis who are joined by the wonderful gay parents of one of the boys…SAVE supports you in your fight for justice and we appreciate you being here with us tonight.”
Once those comments were reported by SFGN and subsequently followed up on by multiple media outlets a firestorm of controversy ensued with Lima being fired five days later on Monday.
The state attorney’s office pushed back against Lima’s assertions.
“The defendants in the case are not wrongly accused. We are aggressively pursuing the prosecution of the case,” said Terry Gonzalez-Chaveza, a spokesperson for the Office. “We believe we have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against them: Aggravated Battery with Prejudice/Weapon or Bodily Harm, Aggravated Battery, Assault with Prejudice/or on Religious Institution Grounds, and Assault. If that were not the case, the charges would have been dropped in the past.”