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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

June 22, 2009 at 5:23 PM

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Two men charged in brutal Beacon Hill attack

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

Two Seattle men have been charged with assault and attempted robbery in connection with a June 18 attack that left a man with severe brain injuries.

Kenneth Fisher, 19, and Justin Phillips, 20, were among a group of five men who attacked the 25-year-old victim in the 1900 block of 13th Avenue South around 6:40 p.m., according to court charging papers. Dawit Alemu was walking past the Beacon Hill Playfield when he was jumped by a group of men, who witnesses say had been drinking.

After knocking Alemu to the ground, Fisher and Phillips went through his pockets, court papers said. Police found Phillips hiding behind a nearby building. Witnesses to the attack identified him as having kicked and punched Alemu. A witness then saw Fisher and pointed him out to police, charging papers said.

Phillips first told investigators that the victim had started the fight by hitting him in the face, charging papers said. But Phillips stopped talking to police when he was told there were witnesses and that one witness had taken photos of the attack, court papers said. Fisher refused to talk to officers.

Nobody else has been charged in connection with the attack.

Police found a Breitling watch in a bag that Fisher had with him. A video of the attack showed the man taking something "small and circular, similar to a watch" from Alemu, according to charging documents. Investigators said there were red and brown stains, appearing to be blood, on the suspects' clothing.

On Friday, Alemu remained on a ventilator and nurse compared his brain injuries to "shaken baby syndrome," charging papers said. According to KING-TV, Alemu is an immigrant from Sudan who was about to graduate from Seattle Central Community College when he was attacked.

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