By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A preliminary hearing has been set for December 16th for three people charged in an attack on a same-sex couple in center city Philadelphia earlier this month.

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The preliminary hearing for defendants Philip Williams, Kevin Harrigan, and Katherine Knott will be the first court test of the prosecution’s evidence in a case that has drawn national attention.

The two men were allegedly attacked — one held down and beaten — and targeted with gay slurs during a chance meeting on the street with a large group of people out celebrating a birthday.

The defense contends this wasn’t about sexual orientation, it was a mutual confrontation on the street.

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Defense attorney Fortunato Perri Jr. represents Williams.

“Fortunately for my client, we will now have an opportunity to present this case fairly in a court of law, as opposed to the court of public opinion,” Perri said today.

The defendants were not in court for the brief scheduling hearing.

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