Sovenski trial to begin today

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Sovenski

COEUR d’ALENE — A jury will use evidence collected on six videos and the testimony from 28 witnesses to decide whether a Hayden man is guilty of a felony for harassing a Spokane youth group last summer.

A three-day trial begins today in Coeur d’Alene for Richard Sovenski, 52, who has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery and felony malicious harassment stemming from the July 12 incident at a Coeur d’Alene McDonald’s.

Sovenski, who was indicted based on witness reports, allegedly punched Quezacoatl Ceniceros, the church youth leader, and pushed him to the ground outside the McDonald’s along U.S. 95 and Hanley Avenue.

Ceniceros told police that Sovenski and another man — Sovenski’s son, Bryce — yelled “nigger,” “fags,” and “halfbreeds,” at the teenagers and their adult supervisors before leaving the area.

Sovenski’s wife, Colleen, told police the youth group teens’ off-kilter behavior led to the altercation. She was in McDonald’s ordering food among the rowdy teens, she said, with her arm in a sling from a recent surgery. She worried that one of the teens would run into her, hurting her shoulder and arm. The youths refused to settle down, causing the clash between Sovenski and Ceniceros, she said.

Sovenski was indicted based on witness reports, and arrested five days later. He told police he yelled at the group, and that members of the group had spit ice cream all over his car, according to a police report.

Malicious harassment is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Ceniceros filmed part of the altercation on his cellphone and posted it to Facebook. His video as well as a six-page report by a Kootenai County investigator has been turned over to the defense attorneys as part of the discovery process.

The trial in First District Judge Scott Wayman’s court begins at 9 a.m.

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