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Suspect's Lawyer Claiming Self Defense In Transgender Attack

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A suspect in the attack on a transgender woman in Hollywood is pleading not guilty to the charges, and his lawyer is arguing that the victim attacked first.

Nicol Shakhnazaryan, a 21-year-old Los Angeles resident, was arrested June 20. He pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of battery with serious bodily injury and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The attack happened around 2:30 a.m. on May 31.

Four male suspects were captured on surveillance video following 22-year-old Vivian Diego as she walked down Hollywood Boulevard near Ivar. The video also shows Diego on the ground being kicked and beaten by the four men. She was hospitalized for a week with severe injuries, including a broken jaw.

Shakhnazaryan's attorney is actually claiming the victim was the aggressor. "There's more to the story than the way the media and the way the prosecution has relayed that it's a hate crime, where they just assaulted this person. The victim is not your typical victim. The evidence will show the victim is the person who assaulted the defendant and his friends," attorney George Mgdesyan told ABC News.

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The other suspects have not yet been arrested. Shakhnazaryan faces up to eight years in prison if convicted. He was originally jailed in lieu of $1.05 million bail, but a judge set bail at $50,000, City News Service reports. Shakhnazaryan is due back in court on July 16 to get a preliminary hearing date.

A $25,000 reward is still being offered in the case. Anyone with information about the attackers should email or call detectives at (213) 972-2967.

Police patrols have been increased along Hollywood Boulevard following this attack and the fatal stabbing of a woman, ABC News reports.

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