Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Outrageous Verdict in the Sucuzhañay Hate Murder Case; Con Escapes Life Sentence

Keith Phoenix (l) and Hakim Scott (r) - NYPD mugshots

Brooklyn, NY – Testimony in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court corroborated Romel Sucuzhañay’s contention, that two young men attacked him and his brother, José Sucuzhañay, wielding a broken beer bottle and an aluminum base ball bat, screaming anti-Latino and anti-gay slurs.  The assault left José with a broken skull.  The Ecuadoran immigrant, 31 years old, living in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, lingered in a coma for five days, dying just before his mother got to his bedside from Ecuador.  Any reasonable person would call that a hate crime.  Not the Brooklyn jury, however.  They bought the defense line, that Hakim Scott, 26, was caught up in an unfortunate “escalating fight.”  It did not seem to matter that a the prosecution established that Scott, who broke his beer bottle over José’s head before menacing Romel with the jagged glass, had dazed José to the point that his accomplice, Keith Phoenix, had an easy target as he lethally swung his bat.  On May 6, the jury found Scott guilty, not of first or second degree murder and hate crime, but first degree manslaughter, allowing him to escape a life sentence for snuffing out an innocent man’s life.  Scott and Phoenix didn’t like the Sucuzhañay brothers because they were Hispanic, and they appeared to be gay.  While Scott will face a possible 40 years in prison for his manslaughter conviction when he is sentenced on June 9, it is hard not to say that there was a travesty of justice in this case.  Now, because a juror refused to hear any more testimony in the Phoenix case, Judge Patricia Dimango has declared a mistrial, and the Sucuzhañay family and their supporters will have to wait further agonizing weeks to learn whether the 31-year-old  ball bat perp will escape the full force of the law, too.  Latinos, especially Ecuadorans, are outraged by the verdict.  So are LGBT people.  And justice has not been done for José Sucuzhañay.  It seems that living at the intersection of two discriminations is very dangerous place to be in America.

May 12, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Brooklyn, Ecuador, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slurs and epithets, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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