The first verdict is returned in the trial of two New York City men accused in the brutal beating death of an Ecuadorean immigrant mistakenly believed to be gay. Despite the fact that numerous witnesses heard both men use anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs at the time, Hakim Scott was acquitted of murder and hate crime charges and convicted of manslaughter and assault for beating and smashing a beer bottle over the head of Jose Sucuzhañay.
"The jury deliberated for no more than two hours on May 5 and for, at most, five more on May 6. On that second day, the jury asked to see Sucuzhanay’s autopsy report. Scott, 26, faced multiple counts of second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, and attempted assault, with some charged as hate crimes. He was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree attempted assault, neither as hate crimes. Allegedly, anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs were used during the assault, but Scott’s jury rejected the hate crime element and they declined to convict Scott on second-degree murder, the most serious charge he faced. 'This was never about hate, this was never about prejudice,' Newman said. 'This was a fight with two men who were intoxicated on the street in Brooklyn.' Scott’s prison time could be onerous. A manslaughter sentence can be up to 25 years and attempted assault can be up to 15 years. He would have to serve six-sevenths of the time before being eligible for release. It is possible that he would have to serve the sentences consecutively, which would increase his minimum time in prison."
Scott faces up to 40 years in prison if the convictions are served consecutively.
A second jury deliberates charges for co-defendant Keith Phoenix, who beat Sucuzhañay with an aluminum baseball bat.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who pushed to aggressively prosecute the case, was outraged that a hate crime conviction was not returned.
"Justice was served with guilty verdicts on manslaughter and attempted assault charges. The fact is, however, that Mr. Scott has escaped serving any time for his vicious hate, hate that was at the heart of this horrible crime and murder. This is a sad day for the family of Jose Sucuzhanay and for all those who uphold and fight for tolerance and acceptance. I pledge to the Sucuzhanay family that our fight is not over and we will do all that we can to see Mr. Scott in jail for the rest of his life. We remain hopeful that Keith Phoenix will ultimately be found rightfully guilty in the hate charges he faces."
The New York City Anti-Violence Project is also disappointed:
"This verdict is a bold indicator of the lack of understanding of what hate crimes are, what they mean to victims and their loved ones, and to the effect they have on communities. Some of the last words Jose Sucuzhañay heard were full of vitriol and hate spewed by two men who targeted them based upon nothing more than their perceived identity, yet this was not a clear enough indication to a jury that they should have handed down a hate crime verdict. Something is terribly wrong with how this society sees the rights to safety for LGBTQ people. 'Through education efforts, we can counter these messages and promote safety and respect for all. Without such education, this type of violence will continue and only escalate' said Kim Fountain, AVP’s Deputy Director, 'AVP firmly holds that the city and state must invest in public education around hate violence. The violence carried out against the Sucuzhañays sent the message that members of LGBT and Latino communities are not safe. The verdict only amplified this message.'”
Rod 2.0's complete coverage HERE. More details as they develop ...