man wants teen hate crime conviction changed

In San Francisco, a man convicted six years ago -- when he was a teenager -- of hate crimes against a group of Asian Americans is now going to court to have his record changed: Man wants teen hate crime conviction changed.

Matthew Monfredini, who was 17 at the time, was one of about twenty people -- all of them white -- who attacked a group of Asian American teenagers. Monfredini was the only one the victims could identify, and he was found guilty of felony assaults and hate crimes.

Six years later, 23-year-old Monfredini has served his sentence of 100 hours of community service, completed his probation, and says he's turned his life around. His attorney is asking the court to change Monfredini's record:
Monfredini now wants the court to reduce his felony assaults to misdemeanors, drop the hate crime conviction and have his record sealed. Prosecutors object, saying hate crimes are serious cases.

"All violent cases are serious, no matter what happens," San Francisco district attorney spokesperson Seth Steward said.

The case is being heard by Judge Kevin McCarthy, the same judge who ruled six years ago that Monfredini was guilty, calling the crimes, "The most despicable behavior one can imagine."

The attack happened June 2003 in the Sunset District near 19th Avenue and Taraval Street. Many of the white students had been drinking at a keg party in Stern Grove and some of them ended up at a nearby pizza shop. The assailants confronted five Asian-American teenagers on the street.

The victims say their attackers yelled racial slurs before they beat them up. The incident lasted maybe ten to 15 minutes, but the victims say for them, what happened here would last a lifetime.

"It's like a scar in my memory, you know, it's something I'll never forget," victim Ken Zeng said during the trial.
I remember writing about this case when it happened back in 2003. I support and commend this guy's efforts to turn his life around and become a better person than what he once was. But this does not change what he did. He's paid the price, and he can move on, but you don't get to just change the past -- he wasn't the only one whose life was affected by this attack.

You want to move on, Matthew? How about this -- you go and talk to every individual victim in that group you attacked. See if it was just that easy for them to move on and forget about what happened. See if they give you the thumbs up to have your record changed. This is just a guess, but I'm thinking that's not going to happen.

The hearing will continue in January, and I'm hoping Judge Kevin McCarthy will have the sense to keep Monfredini's hate crime record as is.

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