MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Earlier this month, we brought you the story out of Long Beach, California, where 10 black teenagers were on trial for accosting three young white women on Halloween. Nine were found guilty. And on Friday, the first four sentences were handed down. Four more came out today and they were surprising.
NORRIS: The ninth and final sentencing is tomorrow.
Tracy Manzer is a reporter for The Long Beach Press Telegram. She was at the court yesterday and she's on the phone with us right now. Tracy, tell us a little bit about the background here, a very quick background, if you can - the teenagers on trial, their victims and why this case has attracted so much attention.
Ms. TRACY MANZER (Long Beach Press Telegram): Well, the case has been rather interesting. It was one that happened back on Halloween in a rather affluent neighborhood of Long Beach in Bixby Knolls, which is known for creating these lavish Halloween displays. And each year it's attracted more and more trick-or-treaters and crowds. This year, they were estimating hundreds to thousands of people.
And what happened was the three victims, three young white women - two 19-year-olds and a 21-year-old - had gone to this one popular haunted house. And when they were leaving, they were accosted by a mob of black teens. It started out with just taunting, kind of name-calling, and escalated from there. The girls were pelted with bold up newsletters, fruit, the little miniature pumpkins. And the taunting, the name-calling, turned to racial flares. And at one point, somebody in the crowd had said that they hated white people. There was a swear word in there. And the crowd just surged forward and sort of converged on these girls.
NORRIS: And the girls wound up testifying, very emotional testimony in this trial. Tracy, what was so surprising about the sentencing today?
Ms. MANZER: Well, what was so surprising about the sentencing today and Friday is that it deviated from what the Los Angeles County Probation Department recommended. They had recommended that these youths do time in their camp program. They would be incarcerated for three, six or nine months, and that some of them go to the violent offenders program. The judge decided to sort of put that aside and he gave them all sentences at home on probation.
NORRIS: Tracy, just quickly, is it unusual for everyone to get the same sentence?
Ms. MANZER: Yes. A number of attorneys have noted that when some - not all of these kids committed the same level of crimes. And the DA had noted that in making their request for sentencing. Yet, the judge gave them all the exact same sentence.
NORRIS: And, Tracy, just very quickly. Any reaction from the victims?
Ms. MANZER: The victims are devastated. They just feel that this has all been a waste of time and money and that justice was not served.
NORRIS: Thank you, Tracy. That was Tracy Manzer, a reporter for The Long Beach Press Telegram, speaking to us from Long Beach.
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