LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It was March 31, 2011, when the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the season with a home game against their longtime rivals, the San Francisco Giants.
The stands were packed with baseball fans, including a group of Giants fans who traveled from Northern California for the game. Among them was a 42-year-old paramedic named Bryan Stow.
After the game, as Stow and his friends were walking through the stadium parking lot, Stow was attacked. Prosecutors say he was blindsided by a punch to the side of his head.
Stow collapsed onto the pavement where he was then kicked three times in the head. He was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious, suffering from a skull fracture. Dr. Gabriel Zada was one of the neurosurgeons who worked to save Stow's life that night.
"Bryan had at least one large fracture with a displaced skull, and that was over a threatening area," Zada said. "The underlying brain had severe swelling and almost what we call contusions, or bruising with blood in that area."
Stow was placed into a coma. It was unclear whether he would survive his injuries.
"He was so deeply comatose for so long," said Dr. Peter Gruen, the director of neurocritical care at Los Angeles General Hospital, "and the longer that you're in that state, the less likely it is that you're going to emerge from it."
Bryan Stow regains consciousness 9 months later
Stow was transferred to San Francisco General Hospital, and nine months later, he regained consciousness. He has spent more than a decade learning how to walk again, how to talk, and how to care for himself.
Today, Bryan Stow lives outside Santa Cruz with his parents who care for him. Now 54 years old, he walks steadily with a cane and works to build his strength with his son Tyler at a gym in Scotts Valley. He hopes to walk on his own one day and to be able to drive a car again. While his doctors say his recovery has been remarkable, he still has a long road ahead.
Wrong man arrested
The attack on Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium stunned baseball fans and placed a spotlight on sports fan violence. The Los Angeles Police Department was under immense pressure to find the men responsible. Sketches of the two suspects, described as wearing Dodger jerseys, were released to the media and placed on billboards.
In May 2011, about two months after Stow was beaten, police arrested Giovanni Ramirez. Despite LAPD Chief Charlie Beck insisting police had the right man in custody, the evidence wasn't there. Ramirez's young daughter came forward and told reporters that her father was not at Dodger Stadium the night of the attack. She said he was with her at a family member's home.
The case fell apart. After three months, Ramirez was cleared of any involvement in the beating of Bryan Stow.
LAPD's elite robbery homicide unit make arrests
With hundreds of potential leads to pursue, the case was turned over to LAPD's elite robbery homicide unit. In July 2011, three suspects were arrested. Police said 29-year-old Louie Sanchez and 30-year-old Marvin Norwood were responsible for the beating, while 31-year-old Dorene Sanchez, who is Louie's sister and Norwood's girlfriend, was arrested as an accessory after the fact.
Witness accounts and a videotape showing the suspects at the game where Stow was attacked added to the evidence against them. Dorene Sanchez was later given immunity from prosecution to testify.
In 2014, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood accepted a plea deal. Sanchez pleaded guilty to felony mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in state prison. Norwood pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault by means likely to cause great bodily harm and was sentenced to four years.
ABC7 revisits the attack on Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium in a special documentary, "True Crime: Beaten at the Ballpark." Don't miss the special on Sept. 9 at 10:30 p.m. on ABC7 or wherever you stream.