By Terri Vermeulen Keith
A parolee was ordered Thursday to stand trial for an allegedly unprovoked attack last summer in downtown Los Angeles on an Olympic silver medal-winning volleyball player, who testified that she had never seen him before.
Superior Court Judge David Fields rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case against Semeon Tesfamariam, 52, who is charged with a felony count of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly throwing a 10-inch metal bolt at Kimberly Glass’ face, along with an allegation that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on her.
The athlete testified that she was looking at a friend’s new car at Olive and Eighth streets after eating lunch last July 8 and saw Tesfamariam — whom she identified during the hearing in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom — scurrying in her direction with a shiny metal object in his hand.
“He was like looking at me, like really deep into my eyes,” she said, indicating that he appeared to be angry and that it looked like he “hated me.”
“I’ve never seen him before in my life,” she said of the defendant, whom she said had glared at her but “never said anything to me.”
Glass — who was an outside hitter on the 2008 U.S. Olympic women’s indoor volleyball team — said she thought he might hit her friend’s vehicle.
She testified that she went to turn, saw him move and then felt pain to her head.
“I didn’t know what hit me,” Glass said.
She said she fell after the attack, started seeing blood and saw the bolt on the ground.
She said she suffered multiple fractures around her eye, had more than 40 stitches to her face and that she experienced “a lot of pain,” and still has lingering medical issues.
Others subdued the assailant and held him until police arrived, she said.
“I heard him say, `It wasn’t me,”‘ Glass testified, while noting that she wasn’t sure if he was being detained at that point because she was covering her left eye while she was on the ground.
Tesfamariam was taken into custody that afternoon by Los Angeles police. He remains jailed without bail while awaiting arraignment March 30.
In a statement announcing the case against Tesfamariam last July, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón called it “a brutal, unprovoked attack.”
“Mr. Tesfamariam has a troubling history of attacking apparently random people with dangerous weapons,” the county’s top prosecutor said. “His behavior appears to have escalated with time.”
Tesfamariam’s first felony assault occurred in 2018 and the second in 2019, according to the District Attorney’s Office, which noted that he was initially sentenced to probation and later was sentenced to state prison and was on parole at the time of the attack on Glass.
His arraignment was initially delayed last year when criminal proceedings were suspended after a doubt was declared about his mental competency. He subsequently pleaded not guilty later that month.