Michael Sandy Trial Shocker: Killer Says He Too is Gay

The trial of John Fox and Anthony Fortunato for the murder of Michael Sandy has opened in Brooklyn with a startling revelation.

FortunatoLast October, Fox, 20, Fortunato, 21, Ilya Shurov, 21, and 16-year-old Gary Timmins 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.

In an opening day bombshell intended to convince the jury that Sandy’s murder was not a hate crime (for which the punishment would mean significantly more jail time), the lawyer for Fortunato, allegedly the “mastermind” behind the crime, told the courtroom that his client, like Sandy, is gay.

Said defense lawyer Gerald DiChiara: “This man has been tortured by a secret that he has carried for a long time. His secret is coming out in this courtroom and his family is listening to it. The stakes in this case are too high for him to keep this a secret any longer.”

MichaelsandyAccording to Gay City News: “Di Chiara said Fortunato had been secretly meeting with other men for sex for several years. The value of that news in the Sandy trial is unclear. To show that Fortunato has committed crimes similar to the alleged Sandy robbery, the prosecutor will introduce evidence that Fortunato had invited gay men to a local motel where he had stolen their belongings when they went to the toilet. The revelation may be an effort to explain that evidence, thereby mitigating its impact. The jury may reject the notion that a gay man can commit a hate crime against another gay man, but even without that charge Fortunato could be still convicted of felony murder, though not as a hate crime, which carries a maximum sentence of 25-to-life. As an alternative explanation for the events of October 8, Di Chiara said that his client had thought that Timmins might be gay and wanted the opportunity to come out to him. Fortunato thought that if he, Timmins, and Sandy smoked marijuana together he would feel comfortable telling him.”

Fortunato and Fox are charged with felony robbery and murder as a hate crime.

FoxAccording to the New York Times, “In their opening statements, defense lawyers argued that no robbery had taken place. ‘He’s innocent of these charges,’ said John D. Patten, a lawyer for Mr. Fox. ‘John Fox, as he sits here today, is not a murderer, has never been a murderer and never will be a murderer.’ Rather than a robbery, Mr. Patten argued, the luring of Mr. Sandy was better described as the crime of larceny by trick. The defendants intended to invite Mr. Sandy to smoke marijuana, ask for money to buy the drugs, then leave. The violent attack by Mr. Shurov, he said, was not anticipated by the other defendants. Unlike robbery, larceny by trick is not an element of felony murder. The notion of a robbery, Mr. Patten said, was concocted after the fact by the prosecutors and investigators. Mr. Fortunato’s lawyer made much the same argument, adding a twist by declaring his client’s homosexuality.”

Shurov is scheduled to be tried separately and has been fingered by the others as directly responsible for Sandy’s death: “Once on the beach, Shurov allegedly attacked Sandy and chased him on to the nearby Belt Parkway where he was hit by a car. Sandy, 29, died on October 13. A defense in felony murder is that the defendant did not cause or aid in the killing and did not believe that any other participant would cause death or serious physical harm. Defense attorneys pointed to Shurov as the one who violated the plan and caused Sandy’s death.”

The fourth and youngest defendant Timmins has received a sentence of four years in exchange for his testimony.

For all our coverage of the Michael Sandy murder, click here….

As Sandy Murder Trial Opens, One Defendant Asserts He’s Gay [gay city news]
Lawyer Claims Defendant in Hate Crime Is Gay, Too [nyt]
Bias case bombshell: Outed in gay slay [tr]


  1. says

    Pardon my angry reaction to the idea that a gay man cannot commit a hate crime against another gay man, but I unfortunately had exactly that experience


    Fortunately, my story ended better than Michael Sandy’s. This is the first time I’ve seen a photo of Fortunato. Oddly, exactly what the guy who vicitimized me looked like. Mister Unfortunato ought to spend a long time in prison where his self loathing probably won’t be cured but at least we’ll all be a bit safer.

  2. Zeke says

    What a stupid defense. It ain’t gonna fly. Not only does it have absolutely no bearing on the hate crime status of the crime it will make his prison life much harder.

    He must have the most inept attorney in the state to have encouraged, or even allowed, this strategy

  3. anon (gmail.com) says

    It sounds like he simply targets gay men for robbery by luring them to a motel under the pretext of having sex. It’s not clear from the stories above if he ever had sex with men or not, or if he ever had sex with men he didn’t intend to rob. It sounds like an attempt to get a plea bargain before it reaches the jury. Just like a story from L&O!

  4. 24play says

    I don’t doubt for a minute that Fortunato really is gay. My Gaydar®’s been tingling since his first perp walk.

    The question is, Will the prosecution be smart enough to point out that the most virulent (or, as in this case, violent) homophobes are often closeted queers? The fact that Fortunato was closeted—and from Bensonhurst, or the like—means the fact that he’s now coming out only makes it more likely this was a hate crime.

  5. Leland Frances says

    Will his defense attorney call that expert psychiatric witness, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas? Or did he simply see the “20/20″ in which the card carrying cunt tried to prove that Matthew Shepard’s murder had no element of homophobia involved at all because his main killer is gay/bi? “Just a robbery ‘gone wrong.” The problem there was that he denied that he is gay/bi despite the claims of others Vargas paraded before the cameras to prove her cracked crack whore theory. Before the show aired, she was promoting it on other programs, asking, “Why would a gay man kill another man for being gay?”

    Strange then that she muddied her own defense of him by asserting that the killers became angry when Matthew offered to exchange drugs for sex with them. That she pulled out of her ass because early in the trials they recanted their initital claims of “gay panic,” admitting that they had simply made it up in the hopes of generating sympathy from the jury. Even killers had the decency to do that; what’s that say of Vargas?

    Can we expect her to do a follow-up to her smear of Shepard with a piece about this case. “Remember when we told you how Matthew Shepard’s killers were not antigay? Now in New York a trial………..”

  6. Giovanni says

    Well this defense has got to be a first but no one is going to buy it – it’s all a bit Special Victims Unit to be true. Having said that, I will be happily surprised if any of these knuckleheaded murderers do serious time. Rip Michael Shandy.

  7. Derrick from Philly says

    When robbery (or some form of stealing) is involved in a violent crime, it makes proving “hate crime” aspect more difficult–or it should. If robbery is the motivating factor, then how can you prove the perpetrator’s intent was to demonstrate his hatred for a particular group by committing violence against a member of that group? For instance, when a hustler (who is not gay) commits violence in the process of robbing his male “trick”, is that a hate crime? What if the victim is a closeted hater of gay people like Senator Craig, can you still prove the motivating factor for the violence was a hatred of gays, or was it robbery? In the Sandy case, I think both race and sexual orientation played a part in the violence committed by these savages; but proving it should be based on the law and evidence, not by political expediency. If we’re going to have hate-crime legislation, let’s make sure it has meaning to it–it has to be proven.

    I don’t know why I differ (slightly) with other gay folks on this issue. My gay-bashing experiences were profound to me, it wasn’t just “thugs out to find an easy robbery target: a faggot”. The hatred wasn’t personal during a robbery, but it was during a gay-bashing attack…well, to me.

  8. Jordan says

    Elizabeth Vargas clearly has mental issues since she did those horrible changes to her appearance, (which had to be more than bleach her hair and get braces) that obviously did not work.

    She must be bipolar like poor Britney.

  9. Robert says

    This isn’t really murder, its aggravated manslaughter. There’s no evidence anyone intended to kill Michael Sandy; they just intended to rob him.

    However, this could be a ‘hate crime’ because Fortunato targeted ‘gay’ victims because he thought they made easy targets.

  10. queendru says

    I’m sickened by those so willing to believe this guy’s story and blame his evil on the closet!

    He’s despicable. To me this is at least manslaughter. I have no idea if it’s a “hate crime” without reading the applicable laws.

    I don’t see why a gay man can’t commit a hate crime on other gay men just because they’re both gay. His crimes clearly targeted gay men and that’s what should matter.

  11. anon (gmail.com) says

    No this would involve depraved indifference at the very least, so murder in the 3rd degree, and pre-meditated criminal facilitation would be murder 2. The defense will argue it down of course.

  12. lou says

    It’s just an excuse to lessen his sentence from a hate-crime his lawyers thought up. It’s not like they have to prove gay-sex in court, and he gets to murder any gay man he likes without it being a hatecrime.

  13. shay shay says

    what i wanna know is why do everyone have a problem with gay,lesbian, or transgender people. they havent did anything to anyone. its wrong period

Leave A Reply