SANTA ANA, Calif. – The mother of a teenage girl who sucker-punched an opposing player in the head during a youth basketball game in Garden Grove — an attack caught on cell phone video that went viral — has asked an Orange County Superior Court judge to place her in a new program that allows defendants to avoid jail time, according to court records obtained Friday.
Attorneys for Latira Shonty Hunt, 46, of La Puente, filed for a pretrial misdemeanor diversion program last month.
Hunt’s attorney, Brett Greenfield, said in court papers that his client has no prior criminal records.
“Defendant respectfully asks this court for mercy,” Greenfield wrote. “Defendant, a single mother of two daughters, has never been charged or convicted of a criminal action prior to this incident.”
He added Hunt has “been the source of national news exposure, ridicule, racist threats and rants, and for several months was forced to hide in a hotel with her children due to the nature of the violent threats. Defendant was forced to pull her juvenile daughter out of school for months, and only now is her life starting to become normal again.”
Hunt has “paid a serious price and has been forever affected by the onslaught of threats because of social media posts and replays of the incident,” Greenfield said.
The defense attorney said prosecutors have indicated they would not object if the defendant writes a letter of apology to the victim, enrolls in a 10-week anger management course before engaging in youth sports spectatorship again and agrees to a stay-away order from the victim.
Messages to Greenfield and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office were not immediately returned.
Hunt, who is next due in court Sept. 14, is charged with misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and battery.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Hunt was in the stands of the Nov. 7 game at the Map Sports Facility in Garden Grove, and after her daughter had an on-court interaction with an opposing player, Hunt allegedly yelled, “You better hit her for that.”
Moments later, the teenage daughter approached the opposing player and slugged her in the head. Alice Ham, the mother of the 15-year-old girl who was struck, told reporters later that her daughter suffered a concussion from the blow.
Hunt faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
The father of the girl who threw the punch, former NBA player Corey Benjamin, issued a statement on social media shortly after the game apologizing for his daughter’s actions.