By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia judge today rejected defense motions to reduce aggravated assault charges and eliminate conspiracy charges against three Bucks County defendants accused of attacking a gay couple last September in center city.

Judge Frank Palumbo ruled after reading more than 100 pages of testimony from the preliminary hearing stage, during which Kevin Harrigan, Philip Williams, and Kathryn Knott were ordered to stand trial.

Defense lawyer Joshua Scarpello, acknowledges that his client, Harrigan, exchanged words — including anti-gay slurs — with one of the victims.  But he says the other guy who was offended said, “What are you going to do about it?” and it escalated to what Scarpello calls a “mutual fight, not an attack.”

Defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr., who represents Williams, says his client was merely coming to the aid of a friend.

“After a young lady was struck by one of the complainants in the case, my client then got involved to protect her,” he says.

Representing Knott, defense attorney Lou Busico argued that one of the alleged victims wasn’t even sure if there was any physical contact with her.

Assistant district attorney Mike Barry says the two gay men were surrounded by at least 14 people but the DA’s office was “cautious,” in his words,  in charging only the three most serious actors.

He says it’s likely others jumped in and started swinging but could not be clearly identified, so prosecutors “went with what they could prove in court.”