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Man filmed attacking Fil-Am family in North Hollywood enters not guilty plea

Steve Angeles | TFC News Van Nuys, California

Posted at Jul 13 2022 04:13 PM

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The Filipino community came out in full force standing behind the Roque family as they faced their attacker in court.

Nicholas Weber, the man caught on tape hurling racial insults and physically attacking the Fil-Am family in a North Hollywood parking lot last May, appeared in a Van Nuys court Monday morning. While he was not visible from the public view of the courtroom, he entered a plea of not guilty and will remain in custody on a $150,000 bail.

The family and community were worried that Weber could be released on his own recognizance or the bail amount could be lowered, but they were relieved that the 31-year-old with a lengthy criminal record will remain in custody for now.

"I’m relieved that he will still be in custody and that his bail still set at an amount that may be difficult for him to get out of. $150,000. Relief and happiness, I would say, are definitely the feelings," victim Patricia Roque said.

The Roque family's lawyer also thanked the community for showing their support.

"We believe this is why the defendant was not released on OR (own recognizance). We also believe if you see the defendant released on OR, you be vigilant and you stand with the family and you make the report to law enforcement," victim rights attorney Sandy Roxas noted.

Weber faces one felony battery charge for breaking the ribs of Gabriel Roque. His attack on Gabriel's wife, Nerissa, was considered a misdemeanor battery charge. Both charges carry hate crime enhancements.

The Roque family is in talks with the district attorney on possibly amending the misdemeanor charge to a felony.

"It definitely should not just be a misdemeanor in my mom’s case. It should be a felony battery because it's more than just a slight touch that occurred during the incident. It was physical assault. He was strangling my mom, choking her to near death. If I wasn’t there, if there weren’t any helpful bystanders separating the two of them, my mom, my dad could have been in more grave danger," Patricia pointed out.

Prosecutors explained that whether or not the battery charge does become a felony, the penalty can be increased.

"The hate crime statute, realized in some instances to give felony sentencing like this instance so even though it’s not alleged as a felony, we are still going to request a felony sentencing," Deputy District Attorney Paul Kim said.

Weber is due back in court on August 19th. However, he is scheduled to appear in other jurisdictions for unrelated charges. In the event that Weber does make bail, the judge has issued a protective order on Weber, restricting him from being anywhere near the Roque family or their residence.