Crime

Man accused of hate crime in Paso Robles assault

A 25-year-old man stands accused of a hate crime after an alleged assault on a Paso Robles couple outside the California Mid-State Fair last week.

The county District Attorney’s Office filed assault and battery charges with a hate crime enhancement Thursday against Cristian Sioldea in connection with a July 20 incident that left 50-year-old Ernest Martin of Paso Robles with a concussion and his wife with cuts and scrapes.

At about 10:15 p.m., Martin and his wife were leaving the Paso Robles Event Center following a concert and walking toward a parking lot on the 2100 block of Riverside Avenue.

As they walked on a crosswalk, Martin was hit from behind on the back of the head, the Paso Robles man said Monday.

His wife was not hit, Martin said, but she was knocked down onto the street and suffered minor cuts and scrapes.

The assailant then began shouting racial slurs at them, said Martin, who is African-American.

“It was horrible. I’ve just never experienced anything like that,” Martin recalled. “He was basically screaming the N-word at me, and I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t want to fight you.’ ”

After a brief scuffle, Martin was able to subdue the suspect and hold him at bay until police officers arrived, he said.

“It seemed like forever,” Martin said. “I knew that if I threw blows at him, we’re both going to jail. So I just held on to him.”

Fair security arrived shortly after the incident began but told Martin they were unable to intervene, Martin said.

Police officers arrived about five minutes later and arrested Sioldea on suspicion of assault and battery. Sioldea’s city of residence was not immediately clear in court records.

Martin admitted himself to a nearby hospital, he said, where he was told he suffered a concussion. He later missed a few days of work, he said.

The Paso Robles Police Department confirmed basic details of the incident but declined to elaborate because the case is currently in court.

On Thursday, the county District Attorney’s Office filed two charges of battery — one felony and one misdemeanor — against Sioldea, as well as a misdemeanor charge of assault. The felony battery charge carries a special allegation of being a hate crime.

Following an arraignment Thursday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Sioldea was remanded to custody on $30,000 bail. No plea was entered at the hearing, according to court records.

San Luis Obispo-based attorney Gerald Carrasco, who is representing Sioldea, declined to comment on the case.

As of Monday, Sioldea was no longer in custody, according to jail logs.

A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 28.

Martin said he thanked police and emergency crews who responded to the incident and added that he’s never experienced anything like it in his 12 years as a county resident.

“It’s traumatized me a bit,” he said. “In this town, you don’t have to worry about things like this. It takes away a lot of the trust you have in other people just walking down the street.”

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