Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Slain Ecuadoran’s Supporters Denounce One Brooklyn Verdict; Await Another

Hakim Scott listens to closing arguments in his trial for the murder of José Sucuzhañay (Ward photo for the Daily News)

Brooklyn, NY – Hakim Scott, 26, killer of Ecuadoran Immigrant José Sucuzhañay, escaped conviction for murder, but was convicted of manslaughter by a jury in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday.  No hate charge was sustained against Scott for the brutal slaying of the 31-year-old Sucuzhañay, who along with his brother Romel was mistaken as a gay man. The brothers were walking arm-in-arm against the cold early on December 7, 2008 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn when Hakim and Keith Phoenix, hurling anti-gay and anti-hispanic epithets, attacked them with a beer bottle, their heavily shod feet, and an aluminum baseball bat.  Family and friends of the victim swiftly denounced the verdict as soft and wrong-headed, according to several news sources.  The New York Daily News reports that José’s brother Diego, vigorously maligned the verdict, saying, “There was testimony that these words of hate were used. We believe right now would have been a perfect time to send a message against hate, intolerism [sic] and racism.” On Friday, the Columbus, IN Republic interviewed Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, as she stood with Sucuzhañay’s three brothers outside the courthouse, “Look, two brothers were walking home. They weren’t bothering anybody. All of a sudden two guys jump out of a car and beat José and leave him for dead, calling him anti-gay and anti-immigrant names? That’s a hate crime,” she said. The Latin American Herald Tribune reported that Quinn further defined what kind of hate crime Sucuzhañay suffered: “Jose Sucuzhañay was murdered because Hakim Scott and Keith Phoenix did not like who he is and who they thought he was,” Quinn said. “And they attacked him, by all accounts, for no other reason than their hatred of the LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) community and their hatred of Latinos and immigrants. That’s what killed Jose Sucuzhañay.” Quinn, Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, and a number of other elected officials believe that the manslaughter verdict, which may entail a 25-year prison term for Scott, to be too lenient for such a savage killing. Diego, speaking for the Sucuzhañays on the courthouse steps during a Friday press conference, said, “The judicial system has failed to send a clear message.  Our family still can’t understand how the jury has come to the conclusion that the attack on my brothers and the murder of José was not motivated by hate,” according to the LAHT.  The trial of Keith Phoenix, who allegedly swung the bat so hard that it burst his victim’s skull, is still proceeding.  The 30-year-old African American is being tried before a second jury seated in the same courtroom as the jury that convicted Scott of manslaughter.  Phoenix is charged with murder and murder as a hate crime in the case.  Members of the Scott jury who were willing to speak to the press speculated that Phoenix may likely be convicted of a hate crime for his part in the grisly bludgeoning of the Ecuadoran businessman.  A verdict in his trial is expected sometime next week. As supporters await the Phoenix verdict, Walter Sinche, Director of the international Ecuadoran Alliance told a reporter for the Daily News, “Someday maybe we’ll get justice. Hopefully, these types of attacks will stop.”

May 8, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Ecuador, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Racism, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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