Judge Rules Michael Sandy Killers Can be Tried for Hate Crime
In June I posted that the defense, prosecution, and judge in the trial of Michael Sandy's killers were deliberating over whether or not Sandy's killing could actually be called a hate crime, as Sandy's killers claim they chose their victim because he was gay and therefore an easy target — not because he was gay and therefore someone to whom they should do harm.
Last October, John Fox (pictured, top right), 20, Ilya Shurov, 21, and Anthony Fortunato, 21, along with 16-year-old Gary Timmins, who has yet to be charged, lured Sandy via an internet chat room to a parking lot on the Belt Parkway where he was robbed, and, following a scuffle, forced into oncoming traffic. He was then hit by a car and sustained injuries that would keep him in a coma until his family later made the choice to remove him from life support. Sandy died October 13.
"Defense lawyers sought to dismiss the enhanced charges [of hate crime]," according to the New York Times, "arguing that the defendants’ conduct did not fit the scope of the state hate crimes statute and that the law itself was unconstitutionally vague."
The judge in the case, Jill Konviser of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, has ruled that the case can be prosecuted as a hate crime, that "prosecutors need show only that the victim was chosen because of his sexual orientation to pursue charges under the state’s Hate Crimes Act of 2000. The law provides for longer sentences on conviction for crimes motivated by racial, religious and other characteristics of a victim."
Said Konviser: "The grand jury evidence shows that this is not a case where hate crimes are charged simply because the victim just happened to be of a particular sexual orientation. Rather, this is a case where the defendants deliberately set out to commit a violent crime against a man whom they intentionally selected because of his sexual orientation. Thus, the hate crimes charges in this case are consistent with the intent of the Legislature."