OUTRAGE: Hate Crimes Charges Dismissed In Brooklyn Murder Of Jose Suzuchanay
Unbelievable. Hakim Scott, on trial for the brutal 2008 murder of Ecuadorean immigrant Jose Sucuzhanay, has been convicted of manslaughter only. The jury dismissed the hate crimes charge, despite overwhelming evidence that Scott and his accomplice screamed anti-gay and anti-Hispanic epithets as they beat Sucuzhanay to death with a metal baseball bat. The second jury is still deliberating the case of Scott's accomplice, Keith Phoenix.
Scott was accused of breaking the bottle over the head of Sucuzhanay as he walked arm-and-arm with his brother, Romel, on a cold night in Brooklyn. The brothers were returning home from a bar; Jose was drunk, and Romel was helping him walk. Prosecutors said Scott, 26, and Phoenix, 30, mistook the brothers for gay men, and yelled anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs at them. Scott smashed the bottle over Jose Sucuzhanay's head and chased after Romel with the broken bottle, while Phoenix beat Sucuzhanay with an aluminum baseball bat so badly he cracked open his skull, prosecutors said. Sucuzhanay died several days later at a hospital. Phoenix has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, manslaughter and attempted assault, all as hate crimes. His jury began deliberations Thursday evening. Phoenix's defense attorney, Philip Smallman, said Thursday in closing arguments that the case was about a fight that escalated, not a premeditated attack.New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is livid. Via press release:
“I am outraged by the dismissal of hate crime charges in one of the most heinous acts of hate our city has witnessed in recent memory. It is incomprehensible to me that such violent acts of hate could receive a verdict of not guilty. Hakim Scott viciously attacked Jose Sucuzhanay while calling him derogatory names and stood by and watched while his fellow attacker, Keith Phoenix, beat Jose with a baseball bat. Jose was attacked simply because of who he was and who these two criminals perceived him to be. His attack was motivated and fueled by pure hatred. I urge all New Yorkers to join me in condemning this verdict, as we did when we originally learned of this attack.I just really cannot believe this. These monsters singled out the Suzuchanay brothers, thinking they were gay because they had their arms around each other. They then beat Jose to death while screaming "Faggot ass niggers!" at them. How the FUCK was this not a hate crime?
"Justice was served with guilty verdicts on manslaughter and attempted assault charges. With these two charges combined, Hakim Scott faces up to forty years in prison. 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."
RELATED: My extensive coverage of the attack, the vigil, the memorial, and the trial can be found here.