Two of the convicted killers in the tragic case of Michael Sandy, the black gay Brooklyn interior designer lured to his death and chased onto a busy highway, are appealing their convictions. The accused ringleader in the case is challenging the testimony of one of his former friends and claims the goal was to rob and not kill the victim, reports Gay City News.
Anthony Fortunato, 23, was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. In 2006, he, Gary Timmins, and two other men lured Sandy, a 29-year-old gay man, to a secluded beach where they tried to rob him. Sandy fled onto a nearby highway where he was struck by a car and killed. Fortunato was sentenced to seven-to-21 years and his earliest possible release date is October 2013. In a plea deal, Gary Timmins, 19, testified for the prosecution in exchange for a four-year sentence. The appeal noted Timmins’ history of drug use, theft, and one serious assault saying, “Since the age of eleven or twelve, he has been an active violator of the criminal law.”
Fortunato, saying he had done so previously, suggested that the group sign on to a gay Internet chat room and lure a gay man to a meeting. Sandy came for a first encounter, but left after seeing all four men. After a second Internet contact, he went back, believing he would meet only John Fox, 22. At that second encounter, Sandy was attacked by Fox and Ilya Shurov, 23. The appeal argued that “the attack and pursuit were spontaneous acts by Shurov, joined by Fox, also spontaneously, and by no one else.” A similar issue was raised at trial.
Fortunato hoped to fend off manslaughter charges by telling the jury he is also gay and was afraid to come out. The jury did not buy it.
Twenty-two-year-old John Fox is also seeking to overturn his convictions for manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes in the killing of Michael Sandy. Fox argues his attorney was incompetent.
Twenty-nine-year-old Michael J. Sandy, an interior designer with IKEA from Brooklyn, was lured to a secluded lot in Sheepshead Bay on Oct. 8, 2006 after exchanging online messages with his would-be-killers on Adam4Adam. Sandy was led to a narrow beach, then attacked and chased into traffic on the Belt Parkway. He was struck by an SUV and later died of his injuries. The driver has never been identified. The Sandy case remains one of the very few successfully prosecuted anti-gay hate crimes where the victim was black and the offenders were white.
Complete background on the Michael Sandy case is here