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Seal Beach men charged in alleged hate crime against gay couple

Samuel Black Wickwire, 18, was charged Tuesday with one felony count of a criminal threat and one felony count for a hate crime causing violent injury with a sentencing enhancement for a hate crime against a gay couple, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said. He has entered a plea of not guilty. Photo: Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

SEAL BEACH — Two Seal Beach men have been charged with hate crimes for threatening and assaulting a gay couple in a Seal Beach beach parking lot last month, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Both men have entered pleas of not guilty and are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Thursday at the West Justice Center in Westminster.

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THE SUSPECTS

Samuel Black Wickwire, 18, was charged Tuesday with one felony count of a criminal threat and one felony count for a hate crime causing violent injury with a sentencing enhancement for a hate crime, according to a press release from the District Attorney’s Office.

Wickwire’s maximum sentence, if he is convicted, would be six years in state prison, according to the statement.

The second suspect, Wade James Rutledge, 27, was charged December 5 and has pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of dissuading a witness by force or threat and hate a crime assault with sentencing enhancements for hate crimes, according to the district attorney’s office.

If convicted, Rutledge would face a maximum seven years in state prison.

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Wade James Rutledge, 27, was charged December 5 and has pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of dissuading a witness by force or threat and hate a crime assault with sentencing enhancements for hate crimes, according to the district attorney’s office. Photo: Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

THE REPORTED HATE CRIME

Prosecutors said the hate crime took place November 3 when Rutledge and Wickwire approached two men in a parking lot near 10th Street and Ocean Avenue and made derogatory remarks about the couple’s same-sex relationship. The Rutledge and Wickwire then threatened the couple with violence if they didn’t leave.

Wickwire spit on one of the victims, while Rutledge grabbed the victim’s phone out of his hand to prevent him from calling 911. Rutledge then gave back the phone, but told the victim to leave and not call the police, authorities said.

As the couple got in their car to leave, Rutledge shoved one victim into the passenger seat and slammed the door on the man’s arm while yelling at them to hurry and leave, prosecutors said.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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