Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Hate Crime Murder Trial Resumes in Brooklyn

Keith Phoenix: "So I killed a man? Does that make me a bad person?"

Brooklyn, NY – Keith Phoenix, alleged murderer of Ecuadoran immigrant José Sucuzhañay, is in a Brooklyn court again after a mistrial.  Phoenix and his co-attacker, Hakim Scott, took offense at José and his brother, Romel, as they walked arm-in-arm on a freezing night in December 2008.  Hurling epithets at the Ecuadorans for being Hispanic and “gay” (in fact, neither of the brothers are gay), Scott assaulted José with a beer bottle, and Phoenix allegedly delivered the coup de grace with an aluminum baseball bat.  Scott received a sentence in the Spring for manslaughter, escaping hate crimes charges.  When a juror in Phoenix’s first trial refused to continue, the judge in Brooklyn Supreme Court declared a mistrial.  There seems little doubt that Phoenix is guilty.  A toll booth camera caught the pair of assailants smiling and laughing as they fled the scene of the crime.  Witnesses stand ready to testify again that the bat attack was so brutal and bloody the taxi driver witness had to avert his eyes from the scene.  And Phoenix himself seems to be doing all he can to get himself convicted, too.  In a confession taken by a detective at Phoenix’s arrest recorded the defendant as asking, “So I killed somebody. Does that make me a bad person?”  Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it does, in the opinion of the Unfinished Lives Project Team.  Critics of how the courts in Brooklyn have been handling this case look to the Phoenix trial as a way of redressing what appears to be a severe disrespect for Latin American immigrants and LGBT people.  The main defense Phoenix is mounting is that too much alcohol led him to do what he did.  He has yet to show any remorse for his actions.  Keith’s attorney has suggested that his client feared that the victim might have a weapon in his waistband, and that José was the one who started the fight.  When José M. Arrufat Gracia, the lawyer for the Sucuzhañay family heard these allegations, he said, “We definitely believe those allegations are insulting to the victims, alleging that the perpetrators were acting in self-defense.”  Perhaps a prison term of decades will assist him to develop the self-restraint he could not exercize two years ago when he bludgeoned an innocent man to death, and the remorse for a hate crime he seems incapable of understanding today.

June 27, 2010 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, 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, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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