Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Savage Anti-Gay Attack Targets Straight Man in Brooklyn

David Jimenez, a non-gay victim of anti-gay hate, was brutally beaten on September 25 while walking his dogs (Brooklyn Paper image - Stefano Giovannini).

David Jimenez, a non-gay victim of anti-gay hate, was brutally beaten on September 25 while walking his dogs (Brooklyn Paper image – Stefano Giovannini).

Brooklyn, New York – A straight resident of the Williamsburg section of greater New York City was viciously beaten by a man yelling homophobic slurs, adding to the alarming number of hate crime attacks in the Big Apple.  David Jimenez, 40, who identifies as a heterosexual man, told reporters from the Brooklyn Paper that the assault seemed to come out of nowhere as he walked his two Boston Terriers back to his apartment at about 11:30 p.m. on September 25.  Jimenez says he had just escorted a group of his friends to a cab.  As he passed a group of men sitting on a stoop on South Third Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, he said he heard slurs being hurled at him, which he tried to ignore as he continued down the street toward his home. The next thing he knew, a brutal punch struck him in the face out of nowhere.  “Someone started screaming, ‘Hey you, faggot,” said Jimenez. “I turned around and gave him a look like, ‘What the hell?’ and the next thing I know the guy starts punching me in the face.”

Jimenez could not successfully defend himself as he struggled to hold onto the leashes of his dogs as blows rained down on him.  The assailant, who remains unnamed as of this report except for his being a 35-year-old man, broke his victim’s nose in four places, bruised his jaw. blacked both his eyes, and shattered the bones in one of his eye sockets.  The attack was bloody, leaving copious stains of blood on the sidewalk that remained there for days after the crime.  Though Jimenez is a straight man, NY1 reports that authorities are now investigating the attack as a bias-motivated hate crime.  A witness to the crime called police who found the attacker still at the scene soaked in his victim’s blood.  Officers arrested the assailant, and charged him initially with assault and possession of a controlled substance, and resisting arrest.  Jimenez, now recuperating at home in preparation for reconstructive surgery to his face, says the wounds he suffered go far beyond the physical ones on his body:  “My head, it cannot comprehend how this is the case, where you literally catch someone with blood in their hands, because when he was taken in, his fist was full of blood, and he’s out here walking while I’m in here locked in my house because I’m afraid of going outside.”  

As EDGE On The Net reports, the hate crime attack on Jimenez adds an alarming new dimension to the rising epidemic of violence against LGBT New Yorkers in recent months, since even heterosexual people who are merely mistaken for being gay are now being targeted.  During the summer, two alleged anti-gay hate crimes were investigated in Williamsburg by police, and in Manhattan, a gay man was fatally shot to death in the Chelsea/Greenwich Village area of the city, one of the queer-friendliest sections of the Big Apple, and the cradle of the modern LGBTQ Rights Movement.  Jimenez told CBS 2 New York that coping with the crime against him will be a longtime struggle.  “That’s the most difficult part — waking up every morning and trying to live my life like normal,” he said.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, New York City, New York Police Department (NYPD), Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Outbreak of Anti-Gay Attacks in Brooklyn and Queens, New York Continues Trend of Homophobic Violence

Kevin Kiadii, 25, assaulted Wednesday in Brooklyn's Prospect Park for his sexual orientation.

Kevin Kiadii, 25, assaulted Wednesday in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for his sexual orientation.

Brooklyn, New York – Since Sunday of last week, there have been two anti-gay bias attacks reported in Brooklyn, and another hate crime assault in Queens, according to various news sources.  On Wednesday night, openly gay Kevin Kiadii, a 25-year-old freelance makeup artist and a male friend were assaulted in Prospect Park, CBS 2 reports.  Kiadii, notable for lodging a sexual misconduct suit against ex-Elmo voice artist, Kevin Clash (see NewsOne story), was randomly chosen for harassment and assault by a group of five teens who were allegedly drunk and/or high.  When the most aggressive of the teenagers, the one also displaying the most intoxication, confronted Kiadii with homophobic slurs, the gay man offered the youth a soda as an attempt to diffuse the situation.  Undeterred, the assailant took a “fighting stance,” in Kiadii’s words, and when Kiadii told him to back off, the youth jumped at Kiadii and said “‘I’m going to [expletive] you up’ and do this and ‘you F and [expletive].'” Kiadii took a perfume bottle from his bag and wielded it like a can of pepper spray to back off his attackers.  “One of the dudes tried to kick me in the face, but just missed and he got me in my shoulder,” Kiadii said.  Kiadii managed to get off a 911 call to police, handed his phone to a bystander, and wrestled with his main attacker, who left Kiadii with an injured hand, cuts and bruises.  Speaking to the New York Post, Kiadii said his ploy with the spray bottle of perfume may have prevented something much worse from happening to him.  “If it wasn’t for my Dior bottle, I’d be in so much damage,” he said.

The police responded quickly, arresting four youths ranged in age from 13 to 18 years of age, and a fifth suspect who is 21. Charges have been filed against the teens and the 21-year-old for harassment as a hate crime, and the prime assailant faces charges of aggravated assault as a hate crime, according to The Advocate.  Expressing his appreciation for the swift action of the police, Kiadii is thankful that he was not more seriously hurt.  Still, the assault has left him shaken but determined to broadcast what he had to face, so that others will not have to endure an anti-gay attack like his.  “I’m appalled. I’m in awe,” Kiadii told CBS 2. “I just really want my story told because I know there a lot of people in the city who deal with stuff like this.” 

Police sketches of Brooklyn subway gay basher and Queens suspect who attacked a woman while shouting anti-gay slurs.

Police sketches of Brooklyn subway gay basher (l) and Queens suspect (r) who attacked a woman while shouting anti-gay slurs.

Police are also searching for an unidentified Brooklyn suspect who punched a 27-year-old gay man twice in the face on the J Train at approximately 11:45 p.m. last Sunday, May 26.  The assailant hurled anti-gay slurs at his victim as he carried out the attack, according to DNAinfo.  The suspect fled out the back of the subway car to escape arrest.  Police described the suspect as a man in his mid-to-late-20s, 6 feet tall, with dark hair tied in a bun. He was last seen wearing a blue denim jacket, police said.  The New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force is carrying out the investigation.  The subway assault and investigation were announced by the New York Police Department on Friday of this week.  Also reported this week was an earlier bias-related attack upon a woman in Queens on March 17 of this year.  Police say that the suspect approached a 49-year-old woman, cursed her with homophobic epithets, and punched her in the face before fleeing the scene.  He is described as between the ages of 20 and 25, five feet four inches tall, 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.  At the time of the assault, the attacker was wearing a small mustache.  The suspect reportedly has been sighted in the area of the 115th Police Precinct.  No explanation has been given for the lateness of the report on the Queens attack as of this report.

Anti-gay violence is spiking alarmingly throughout New York City.  Better than 30 incidents of anti-LGBT hate crimes have been reported this year, one of them a fatal shooting, easily doubling last year’s statistics for anti-gay attacks during the same time period.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Queens, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Outbreak of Anti-Gay Attacks in Brooklyn and Queens, New York Continues Trend of Homophobic Violence

Anti-Gay Rapist Sought by New York City Police

Suspect Julius "Stinky" Wright (NYPD photo)

Brooklyn, New York – “Stinky” is as “Stinky” does (allegedly, at least).  The New York Police Department is searching for suspected hate crime perpetrator, Julius “Stinky” Wright, 21, for a sexual assault in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district on a 24-year-old Hispanic male.  The Advocate reports that Wright confronted the Hispanic around 3 a.m. on September 5 with a fake firearm, and demanded to know his sexual orientation.  Wright then allegedly cursed the Hispanic with homophobic slurs, and berated him for being weak.  Social justice advocates report that the assailant then brutally sodomized his victim.  The New York Daily News posted that the suspect stole his victim’s cell phone, and ran from the scene. The victim was transported to Woodhull Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries, and was later released.

City Council Member Al Vann who represents the district where the crime occurred was joined in a statement by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn: “We are disgusted and horrified to hear about this incident. Hate crimes hurt everyone, and any act of violence against one member of the LGBT community is an act of violence against us all. Too often we hear about acts of violence committed against LGBT people in our city. We must put an end to the intolerance that breeds this hatred. New York City prides itself on diversity and acceptance of all its residents and this act goes against the very fiber of what our city stands for.”

The NYPD is asking anyone with information about the whereabouts of Wright to contact them immediately at 1-800-577-TIPS.

September 26, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Brooklyn, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, LGBTQ, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Sexual assault, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-Gay Rapist Sought by New York City Police

Brooklyn Man Brutally Gay Bashed

Williamsburg native, Barie Shortell, the day of the attack

Brooklyn, New York – Barie Shortell, 29, was beaten savagely by a gang of six teens who thought he was gay.  On February 22, Shortell walked past the hooded teens in the Williamsburg neighborhood who insulted and hurled anti-gay epithets at him.  At about 10:10 PM, Shortell told The Brooklyn Paper, one of the youths yelled, “Oh, shit, is that a guy or a girl?” Shortell let the insult pass, thinking it “juvenile,” but the gang pursued him as he tried to cross Wythe Avenue, slamming him into a wall and then pummeling him on the sidewalk with such force that it shattered his nose, his eye sockets, and broke his jaw in several places. Shortell thankfully has no recollection of the moments of the assault. He was sure, however, of the motive for the attack. “I feel pretty confident they perceived me as a gay man and attacked me, but I can’t understand why they did what they did,” he said to The Brooklyn Paper. “I looked horrible. Blood was everywhere.” Shortell was rushed to Woodhull Hospital where surgeons worked for better than ten hours to reset his jaw and insert three metal plates into his face and head. A spokesperson for the hospital told reporters that the force of impact the injuries represented was equivalent to a car wreck. At first, police dismissed the hate crime aspect of the case. Pressure from the New York Anti-Violence Program made them reconsider. Now the case is being investigated as an anti-gay hate crime, though there have still been no arrests made as of March 17.  The costs of Shortell’s surgery has mounted to over $100,000, so friends have organized a benefit to raise money for him next week on March 23.  Calling the event “Gay Bash: A Benefit for Barie Shortell,” the organizers are asking $35.00 admission to the Blackout Bar, 916 Manhattan Avenue at Kent Street in Greenpoint. Doors open at 7 PM.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ball Bat Killer Guilty of Murder As A Hate Crime in Brooklyn

Keith Phoenix Found Guilty

Brooklyn, NY – Just seven hours after the jury was sequestered on Monday, José Sucuzhañay’s prime attacker, Keith Phoenix, was found guilty of second-degree murder as a hate crime.  When he is sentenced on August 5, Phoenix will face a possible 25 years to life in prison for his role in bludgeoning Sucuzhañay to death with an aluminum baseball bat on December 7, 2008 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.  City officials and the Sucuzhañay family expressed relief and satisfaction with the verdict.  The first trial was aborted when a holdout juror refused to co-operate with the process, alarming both the immigrant rights and LGBTQ communities that Phoenix might squeak through the legal system with little or no punishment for one of the most brutal hate crimes in recent New York history.  Phoenix’s accomplice, Hakim Scott, was found guilt of manslaughter and aggravated assault on May 6, but escaped the hate crime enhancement when the jury set aside the charge. The Scott decision drew a storm of criticism, so the eyes of many were focussed on what the jury would do in the Phoenix case.  As reported by the NY Post, José’s brother, Diego Sucuzhañay, standing at the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place, now renamed “Sucuzhañay Place” in memory of his brother, congratulated the jury for its work. “We were afraid we would not get justice. The first time the mistrial and our family had to go through this process, this painful process. But we wanted justice for the death of our brother,” he said, with his other brother Romel standing beside him.  Also quoted in the Post, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said, “Just hours after this horrible tragedy, I came to this location and I pledged that the people who did this horrible thing to Jose would be found be convicted and the only way they would come out of prison would be in a box.  I’m here today to reaffirm that,” the D.A. concluded. For his part, Phoenix, 30, who had not expressed any remorse for what he did, was taken aback by the verdict, according to the Gay City Times.  “I think he’s kind of surprised by this result,” Philip J. Smallman, Phoenix’s attorney, said of his client, following the announcement of the verdict.  Phoenix never entertained the thought that he would be convicted of a hate crime.  Smallman has declared that he intends to appeal the verdict on Phoenix’s behalf.  Because Scott and Phoenix targeted José and Romel for being “Spanish” and “faggots” as they huddled together against the Brooklyn winter, the case drew together two unusual groups of allies, immigrants’ rights advocates and LGBTQ human rights activists.  Though the Sucuzhañay brothers are heterosexual, mistaking their sexual orientation as gay has helped sensitize the Latino/a community to the shared sense of injustice experienced by LGBT people in the United States and Ecuador.

June 30, 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, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ball Bat Killer Guilty of Murder As A Hate Crime in Brooklyn

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hate Crime Murder Trial Resumes in Brooklyn

Ball Bat Attackers Immune from Hate Crimes Charges?: Authorities Backpedal on Anti-Gay Violence

Big Stick Combat photo

Dallas, TX – What does a midnight assault on two Dallas gay men Friday have in common with a December 2008 fatal attack on two Latinos mistaken as gay in Brooklyn, New York?  Two things: first, both attacks were carried out by homophobes yelling anti-gay slurs as they swung baseball bats at the heads of their victims; and second, police in both cases classified neither assault as an anti-hate crime. What gives? What does it take to get officers of the law to prosecute hate crimes under existing hate crime statutes? While Dallas and Brooklyn are 1370 miles distant from each other and worlds apart culturally, they both have law enforcement resistant to investigate crimes against gay men as bias-motivated.  The 2008 Brooklyn murder of José Sucuzhañay serves as an eerily familiar backdrop to the current Dallas attack on Kyle Steven Wear and his friend Alex. Like Dallasites Kyle and Alex, the Ecuadoran immigrant brothers José and Romel were walking together down the street in the wee hours of the night.  The Brooklyn crime was carried out by two assailants swinging a broken beer bottle and an aluminum baseball bat, yelling anti-gay and anti-hispanic epithets.  Trials in the Sucuzhañay case are proceeding right now in Brooklyn, where Hakim Scott has just been convicted of first-degree manslaughter, and his accomplice, Keith Phoenix, awaits an new court date since the New York judge dismissed all hate crimes charges and declared a mistrial because of a juror in the first Phoenix trial who refused to participate any further.  The Brooklyn ball bat attack left José lingering five days in a coma from a broken skull before he died.  The consensus of the supporters of Sucuzhañay family, outraged city officials, and the metropolitan New York media is that this ugly, brutal attack took place because Scott and Phoenix targeted two Hispanic men whom they mistook for gay because they didn’t like the way they looked.  Wear and his friend Alex (last name still unreleased) were much more fortunate.  As they walked along in the southwestern part of the Cedar Springs gay entertainment district in Dallas, “the gayborhood,” headed for the bars, four assailants only identified as Latinos wearing white tee-shirts, blindsided the pair shouting “Faggots, give us your fucking wallets!” according to WFAA News. Wear told WFAA on camera that he was knocked unconscious and his jaw was broken by one of the attackers swinging a ball bat.  His friend, Alex, reported that he feared for his life as the homophobes forced him to the ground.  The Dallas Police are refusing to classify the case as a hate crime, contending instead that the motive was to rob the gay men.  But Alex isn’t buying it.  He told Jonathan Betz of WFAA, “I still feel like that was why we were targeted in the first place, because we are gay. It was like it was funny to them.”  John Wright of the Dallas Voice is outraged that the authorities have resisted investigating the Dallas ball bat assault as an anti-gay bias crime.  In a May 16 post for the Dallas Voice blog, Instant Tea, he writes, “Despite the fact that the suspects yelled anti-gay slurs as they beat the victims with baseball bats, Dallas police have not classified the incident as a hate crime, which is an outrage.”  Wright points out that Jimmy Lee Dean was nearly beaten and stomped to death in the same general neighborhood by two homophobic attackers in July 2008.  Wright then shows that regardless of the refusal of Dallas law authorities to enforce Texas hate crimes law, federal hate crimes protections should kick in.  The James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 classifies a hate crime as motivated in whole or in part by anti-LGBT bias. One major determining criterion of an anti-gay hate crime for the FBI is the use of epithets as the perpetrators carried out the crime.  Anti-LGBT hate crimes are like the rest of life: seldom pure and simple.  Other motives often accompany hate violence against gays, lesbians, and transgender persons: robbery, drugs, racism and sexism, to name a few.  But homophobia and heterosexism, like a sinister bass line in a libretto, thread throughout all anti-LGBT hate crimes cases, targeting people who are assumed to be inferior, impure, and abominable because of their perceived sexuality.  In Dallas and in Brooklyn, it seems baseball bats and anti-gay epithets are not enough to launch hate crimes prosecutions.  Are anti-gay sluggers simply immune in Texas and New York? Again we ask, What does it take to get officers of the law to prosecute hate crimes under existing hate crime statutes? It takes an outcry from LGBT people and their allies so that law enforcement will not be permitted to backpedal on hate crimes against members of the sexual minority without a stink being raised to high heaven. If police and prosecutors are unfamiliar with what LGBT bias crimes are, they are responsible to educate themselves. If they are being intentionally obstructionist, then the mayor and the city council need to replace them with officials who will carry out the law.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, Brooklyn, Ecuador, FBI, gay men, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ball Bat Attackers Immune from Hate Crimes Charges?: Authorities Backpedal on Anti-Gay Violence

Anti-Gay, Anti-Latino Murder Trial in Brooklyn; Assailants “Didn’t Like the Way They Looked”

José Sucuzhañay

Brooklyn, New York – After a year and a half, a murdered Ecuadoran immigrant mistaken as gay may get some justice.  José Sucuzhañay, 31, a native of Ecuador with a real estate brokerage in New York, was savagely dispatched with a beer bottle, kicks and stomps, and an aluminum baseball bat, according to testimony reported by media throughout the Five Boroughs of New York.  The trials of Hakim Scott, 26, and Keith Phoenix, 30,  got underway in Brooklyn Supreme Court on April 10 for the 2008 murder of Sucuzhañay. Charges against the pair include second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, and murder as a hate crime.  If  convicted, the alleged killers could face sentences of 78-years-to-life imprisonment. The defendants are being tried simultaneously before separate juries in a precisely choreographed judicial drama.  At times, both juries are seated to hear the same  testimony.  At other times, dictated by the presentation of evidence, only one jury is present in the courtroom.  As reported by the New York Times, José Sucuzhañay and his brother, Romel, visiting from Ecuador, were attacked at 3  a.m. on December 7, 2008 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn because Scott and Phoenix “didn’t like the way they looked.”  Prosecutor Josh Hanshaft, referring to Phoenix who allegedly wielded the bat, told the juries, “He didn’t like that they were Hispanic. From his eyes, it appeared they were a gay couple, a way of life he didn’t like and wasn’t going to tolerate.”  In reality, both men were heterosexual.  The Latino brothers had been drinking at parties in the neighborhood and were tipsy enough that they uninhibitedly hugged each other for support and warmth on a bitterly old night as they walked along.  The attackers, who had also been partying that night, set upon them, yelling “faggot ass niggers” and “fucking Spanish,”  from Phoenix’s red SUV.  The prosecution believe that both assailants acted in concert to effect their victim’s death. Scott, Hanshaft said, emerged from the auto and smashed a beer bottle over José’s head.  He then charged Romel with the deadly shards of broken glass, slashing at his neck. Phoenix took the bat, swinging it “high above his head,”  and struck Sucuzhañay “over and over and over again,” Hanshaft said. “He came back with the bat and hit him two to three times on the head, cracking his skull wide open.”  A Brooklyn cabbie at the scene witnessed the attack well enough to capture the license plate of the red SUV, but then had to cover his eyes with his hands, unable to watch the coup de grâce delivered by Phoenix.  As reported by Chelsea Now, taxi driver Davi Almonte, speaking through an interpreter, told the court, “I didn’t want to see the head explode when it was hit. I could hear the impact [of the bat crushing his skull].”  According to NY1, in testimony on the trial’s second day, Demetrius Nathaniels, cousin of Keith Phoenix, heard the bones cracking as Phoenix bludgeoned Sucuzhañay with the bat on his head, back, side and ribs.  A coroner’s report confirmed that José died of a fractured skull from blunt force trauma.  Romel, only superficially injured by Scott’s assault, was left stunned, nearly catatonic by the body of his brother who lay in a massive pool of blood, and had to be led away by police responding to the alarm raised by witnesses.  The alleged killers sped from the scene. A toll booth video capture of the red SUV on the Triborough Bridge clearly shows Phoenix laughing and smiling barely 19 minutes after the fatal attack.  Sucuzhañay was left brain dead, and placed on a ventilator at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens where he finally succumbed on December 12. An outpouring of grief and rage followed news of the murder, both in New York and in Sucuzhañay’s native Ecuador where the slain immigrant was given a near-state funeral attended by hundreds.  New York Gay and Latino advocacy groups organized protests and vigils, while city officials roundly condemned the brutal killing. Philip J. Smallman, attorney for Phoenix, summed up the consensus of all concerned with events of December 7: “Does anything good happen at 3 o’clock on a Sunday morning in 30-degree weather, with people with bellies full of booze?” he asked.  The Brooklyn trial is expected to last for a number of weeks.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Brooklyn, Ecuador, funerals, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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