MIAMI - The state has upgraded charges against four men accused of attacking a gay couple last month on South Beach following the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade.
Under Florida's hate-crime enhancement law, the state charged each man Thursday with aggravated battery committed with prejudice.
Juan C. Lopez, Adonis Diaz, Pablo Romo-Figueroa, all 21, and Luis Alonso-Piovet, 20, each face up to 30 years in prison if they are convicted.
The victims, Dimitri Lugonov and Rene Chalarca, attended Thursday's hearing.
The couple told police they were attacked by the group of men April 8 after they shared a hug while waiting to use a restroom at Lumus Park in the 500 block of Ocean Drive.
Chalarca and Lugonov said one of their attackers yelled an offensive Spanish word for homosexuals before hitting them several times.
"I fell on the ground and somebody started beating me up. I didn't even see the faces," Logunov told Local 10 last month. "It was that quick. He tried to protect me."
"He hit him, and then I grabbed the guy, and he was already on the floor, and the other people came and started hitting him," Chalarca said.
According to a police report, a bystander who saw the attack and tried to intervene was pushed to the ground and suffered a cut to the back of his head.
"We confronted the guys and asked them, 'What the hell? Why did you guys do that? That's unfair.' And that's all I remember," Helmut Estrada said.
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