El Paso, TX (KDBC) — The trial starts Tuesday for Ivan Gallardo, 19, who is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly beating Lionel Martinez, outside of the former Old Plantation nightclub in May of 2011.
Martinez was outside of the club by himself when a group of five men, including Gallardo, allegedly kicked and hit Martinez in the head with a baseball bat.
NewsChannel 9 spoke with Martinez's sister, Deanne Martinez, days after the attack. She arrived to pick up her brother at the nightclub the night of May 7th and witnessed the attack.
"He was on the floor laying there knocked out and they still kept bashing his head with a bat that to me is so cowardly," said Deanne.
Deanne said she believed the attack was a hate crime because her brother was alone outside of a gay club. She said she heard them shouting gay slurs at her brother, along with their gang affiliation.
Investigators eventually said there was not enough evidence to call the attack a hate crime.
Family members said Lionel suffered from seizures and memory loss after the attack, and also had trouble walking.
Five men were charged in the attack, including Gallardo. Ruben Valenzuela and Manny Portillo pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges. In April, 2012 Valenzuela was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Portillo is awaiting his sentence.
Esteban Alfaro, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was tried as an adult and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Roman Olvera is awaiting his trial.