Inside the Hate Crime Killing of Michael Sandy


New York Magazine talks to Anthony Fortunato at Riker’s Island prison about the death of Michael Sandy, for which Fortunato was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree as a hate crime as well as petty larceny.

In the most detailed account of Sandy’s murder published to date, the magazine looks at Fortunato’s I’m-gay-so-it-couldn’t-have-been-a-hate-crime defense, and asks if the state’s hate crime laws are flawed:

Michael_sandy“Does the perpetrators’ gayness make their crimes any less horrible? Should it even be considered a mitigating factor? Since Michael Sandy was black, why weren’t Fortunato and his friends charged with hate crimes against blacks? The New York State hate-crimes law has been controversial since it was passed seven years ago. At issue is the question of motive versus deed. An original version of the bill in the Democratic-controlled State Assembly had required that both factors be considered—that to be convicted of a hate crime, the criminal must demonstrate ‘invidious hatred, prejudice, and bias’ and single out the victim based on his race, religion, sexual orientation, or the like. But the final version, a bill that came out of the Republican-controlled State Senate, made motive almost irrelevant. All that mattered was the selection itself…The trouble with that law, critics say, is that a hate crime doesn’t even have to involve hatred. ‘What if a black person decided to prey upon another black person out of a perception that black people are weak, more susceptible to crime?’ asks John Sampson, an African-American state senator from Brooklyn who helped pass the law but now believes the way it’s being applied has exposed its loopholes. Is that a hate crime? He doesn’t think so. ‘With examples like that,’ he says, ‘we’re moving away from the spirit of the law.'”

When Is a Hate Crime Not a Hate Crime? [new york magazine]

Anthony Fortunato Convicted of Hate Crime in Michael Sandy Death [tr]
Defendant in Michael Sandy Murder Convicted [tr]
Defendant’s Confession Challenged in Michael Sandy Trial [tr]
Prosecutor Cross-Examines in Michael Sandy Trial [tr]
For all our Michael Sandy coverage, click here.