RACINE -- One of two Racine teens accused of attacking a Racine man in a wheelchair pleaded not guilty to the crime Thursday, October 25th.
18-year-old Alexander Pietsch faces one count of robbery, crime against an elderly or disabled person, one count of substantial battery as party to a crime, crime against an elderly or disabled person and one count of misdemeanor bail jumping. Pietsch pleaded not guilty Thursday and agreed to let the case go to trial.
19-year-old Justin Lyons faces one count of robbery as party to a crime, crime against an elderly or disabled person and one count of substantial battery as party to a crime, crime against an elderly or disabled person. He is due in court next week.
According to the criminal complaint in the case, a police officer arriving at the scene reported seeing the victim laying on the ground next to his overturned wheelchair, pleading for someone to "please call 911." The victim was reportedly bleeding from the head and complained that his leg was "probably broken." The victim told police he had been attacked and beaten before the suspects made off with his cell phone.
FOX6 News spoke with the victim, David Scholzen. Scholzen suffered cuts on his head and a sprained knee as a result of the attack.
"My head's still relatively sore. Wondering why this was done to me," Scholzen said.
As he tries to answer that question of "why," Scholzen says he can't help but believe it's because he was an easy target.
In statements to police, the victim said the two men approached him on the street and asked to see his phone. The victim had dialed 911, but had not pressed the "send" button. When the victim refused to hand over his phone, one of the men began striking him in the head and face with closed fists. Eventually, one of the suspects allegedly pressed something against the victim's neck, which the victim assumed was a gun, and said: "Gimme the (expletive) phone or I'll shoot you!" At this point, the victim handed over the phone and the two suspects took off -- but not before reportedly striking the victim more.
A short time later, the suspects returned and further attacked the victim, according to the criminal complaint. The victim told police he believes the suspects saw that he had dialed 911 and became angry.
"He did a remarkable job that night. I don't know how I would've been thinking and using my head as much as he did," Scholzen's mother, Debbie Christensen said.
The suspects were quickly tracked down and taken into custody, and the cell phone was returned to the victim.
Lyons told police he came upon an argument between Pietsch and the victim and heard the argument escalating and pulled Pietsch off the victim. Lyons told police he may have tipped over the wheelchair as he was pulling Pietsch off the victim. Lyons told police he has robbed people in the past, but that he is trying to get his act together.
Scholzen says he's received an outpouring of support via text and Facebook messages.
"Friends, family and even people I don't know have been showing a lot of support," Scholzen said.