Janesville man admits hitting men for speaking foreign language

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Kevin Murphy/Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MADISON--A Janesville man accused of hitting two men because they were speaking a foreign language pleaded guilty Wednesday in Dane County Court to two counts of misdemeanor battery and was placed into a first offenders program.

Dylan T. Grall, 23, “caught a break” in not being charged with a hate crime enhancer, Dane County Judge Nicholas McNamara said.

Grall punched a 22-year-old Skokie, Ill., man and a 23-year-old Milwaukee man after 2 a.m. Oct. 26 in downtown Madison, according to a police report. The two men were speaking Hebrew when they passed Grall, who swore at them and demanded they speak English.

Grall punched both men in the face. One fell to the ground. The other had an eye nearly swollen shut, according to the report.

Grall denied hitting the men but admitted he thought they were speaking Spanish.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Mimier told McNamara the incident was not a hate crime. He recommended sentencing be withheld and charges dismissed if Grall completes the first offenders program.

“The victims weren't happy with this, but they're not present and understand that perhaps this is an appropriate sentence,” Mimier said.

Grall was “staggering down State Street drunk and was a misunderstanding waiting to happen,” Mimier said.

Grall's attorney, Michael Short, agreed with Mimier's sentencing recommendation.  Short said Grall was ready to plead guilty last month, but because the victims could not attend the hearing then, Grall postponed his plea until Wednesday.

After court, Short said Grall's offense was not a hate crime based on conflicting witness statements and further police interviews.

“There's surveillance cameras in the area, and police never reviewed photos recorded on them,” Short said.

Instead, Short called it “an altercation that escalated.”

McNamara advised Grall to use the first offender program “to make changes in your life, do the hard work they'll have for you in substance abuse treatment or anger management."

Last updated: 7:54 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

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