Jury deliberations began late this afternoon in the trial of Hakim Scott (right), one of two men accused in the beating death of an Ecuadorean immigrant mistakenly believed to be gay. Another jury will receive the case against Keith Phoenix tomorrow.
The defendants are accused of killing Jose Sucuzhañay as he was walking arm and arm with his brother Romel in Brooklyn, New York in December 2008. Numerous witnesses—including Phoenix's 19 year old cousin, who was driving with them—say the defendants jumped from their SUV to beat Sucuzhañay with an aluminum baseball bat. Scott's attorney says it was a case of "guilt by association", reports Gay City News.
"The attorney for the second man told a Brooklyn jury that his client 'did not have the same goal' as the alleged killer during the incident and asked jurors to acquit his client on all charges. In statements to police, Scott said Phoenix exchanged words with the brothers, but he did not hear them. José then spat at them and Scott was angered after some saliva hit him, he said. Scott exited the car from a rear seat carrying a bottle, fought with the two brothers, and struck José with the bottle. He then chased Romel and returned to the car to find Phoenix beating José with a bat.
Closing for the prosecution, Patricia M. McNeill, one of two assistant district attorneys trying the case, countered Newman’s arguments during her 70-minute statement. 'Who was the first one out of the car?' McNeill asked. 'The defendant. Who led that attack? The defendant…Who was the first person to land a blow? He was. When did he do it? Right after his partner called them faggots.' McNeill said the law did not require that they show that Scott and Phoenix verbally agreed to make the attack, but only that they carried it out together."
On Tuesday: Keith Phoenix's mother testified and claimed her son's biological father is Puerto Rican and Dominican. "He's obviously a man of Hispanic background and he's accused of attacking people of Hispanic background as a hate crime. And his position is that has never been the case," said Phoenix's lawyer, Philip Smallman.
Last week: Jurors "shook their heads in disgust" as they watched Phoenix and Scott's chilling videotaped statements to the NYPD. Phoenix's 19-year-old cousin told jurors he watched from the SUV's back as the two men beat Sucuzhañay to a pulp. Several other witnesses and a cab driver also recounted watching Phoenix mercilessly beat the man to a pulp.
Phoenix and Scott face charges of second-degree murder as a hate crime, manslaughter, assault and attempted assault. Both have plead not guilty and are being tried in the same courtroom by two different juries. During the course of the two-week trial, neither took the stand in their own defense. They face life sentences if convicted.
Rod 2.0's complete coverage HERE.