Man accused in hate crimes against Muslim women to stand trial

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SAN DIEGO -- A man who allegedly uttered hate speech during a physical confrontation with three Muslim women in Little Italy was ordered Thursday to stand trial on three felony battery counts, as well as hate-crime allegations.

Kyle Erik Allen, 50, allegedly confronted and attacked the victims, who were wearing hijabs, near Columbia and Beech streets Oct. 6.

According to Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh, the women were walking down a narrow sidewalk when they encountered Allen, who allegedly shoved his shoulder into one of the women, struck another woman with an open hand and tried to remove another woman's hijab from her head while yelling "Go back to your country. Go back to where you came from!"

Najma Mohamed, one of the alleged victims, testified Thursday that after Allen shoulder-checked her, she pushed him. He then grabbed her wrist and a melee ensued, with the other two women -- Mohamed's sisters-in-law -- grabbing Allen by his shirt collar.

Mohamed said Allen struck one of the women in the face, though she felt he had intended to hit her and struck one of the other women inadvertently.

He's accused of later pulling the hijab off of one of the women's heads and then making the alleged hate speech comments.

According to defense attorney Kerry Armstrong, Allen was attacked at the scene by an unknown number of bystanders, sustaining injuries to the side of his face.

Armstrong argued in court that the events were "purely an accident" due to the narrow dimensions of the sidewalk and that there was no evidence that Allen targeted the women because of their religion. The attorney said that even if the allegations were to be believed, he didn't think it constituted felony conduct.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Margie G. Woods bound Allen over on all charges and denied a motion from Armstrong to reduce the charges to misdemeanors.

Allen faces a maximum of four years and four months in state prison if convicted of all charges. He remains out of custody on bond and will return to court Jan. 6 for a Superior Court arraignment.

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