The hits keep coming for Keith Phoenix. First, the 28-year-old Bronx ex-con was caught laughing on a traffic camera only minutes after he confessed to beating an Ecuadoran immigrant to a pulp with a baseball bat and yelling anti-gay slurs. Then he claimed self-defense. Now, in a jailhouse interview at Rikers Island, the murder suspect blames the victim and says he is not "anti-gay."
The Daily News interview is a fascinating exercise in denial and fiction.
Phoenix says Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel stepped in front of his SUV on that fateful Dec. 8 morning - and when he blew his horn, Jose kicked the vehicle and the brothers let out a stream of curses. He said he got out to confront them.
"I saw the handle of a gun," Phoenix said matter-of-factly. "He was reaching for a gun."
So he grabbed a bat from the SUV and struck Jose four times, he said, and hit him twice more when he thought he was reaching for the gun again.
He denied police accounts that he callously blurted, "So I killed someone - that makes me a bad guy?" when nabbed.
Phoenix, whose lawyer also claimed his client was acting in self-defense, said he was stung by allegations he targeted the brothers because he thought they were gay. "I'm not a hateful person," he said. "I have nothing against gay people." He also said he is part Hispanic.
Jose Sucuzhany was not gay. On December 7, the Ecuadoran immigrant was walking arm-in-arm with his brother to keep warm when Hakim Scott and Keith Phoenix jumped from an SUV. Reportedly more than a dozen witnesses say the thugs shouted anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs while beating them with broken beer bottles and a baseball bat. Witnesses and police insist the victims had no weapons of any kind.
So the gay-bashing, baseball bat-wielding ex-con wants us to believe everyone is lying but him. All of these witnesses—plus the police and the victim's surviving brother—are mistaken in what they saw and heard? And he jumped from the safety of his SUV because a pedestrian was "reaching for a gun" that was never recovered and no one saw? Yeah. You keep telling yourself—and the jury—that.
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