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Sentences Come Down for Michael Sandy's Killers

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Three defendants, Anthony Fortunato, John Fox, and Ilya Shurov, were sentenced yesterday for their convictions in the hate crime death of Brooklyn interior designer Michael Sandy, whom they lured to a parking lot near the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn and after a botched robbery attempt, chased him into traffic where he was killed.

FortunatoNewsday reports: "Anthony Fortunato, 21, who had told jurors they shouldn't convict him of a hate crime because he's gay, too, was sentenced to seven to 21 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and attempted petit larceny. John Fox, 20, was sentenced to seven to 21 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and attempted robbery as a hate crime. Ilya Shurov, 21, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and attempted robbery as a hate crime."

According to Gay City News, however, the prison terms could be much shorter: "Fortunato received seven-to-21 years for manslaughter as a hate crime. His first parole hearing will come after he serves six years...According to the state corrections department, Fox's first parole hearing will come after he serves 11 years. If he is not paroled, he will get a conditional release at 14 years if he participates in programs mandated for him and does not violate prison rules...[Shurov] avoided a felony murder conviction and will get a conditional release after serving 15 years if he follows prison rules."

Sandy's parents were present at the sentencing, the paper reports:

"Sandy's parents spoke at the hearing with Denise saying she had forgiven the three, but that she missed her son. 'I am so unhappy now without my son,' she said. 'Holidays are empty for me.' Ezekiel noted that while the three would go to prison, they would some day be released. He would never again see his son. 'Yes, they will go to an institution, but they will have birthdays, they will have holidays, they will have their families,' he said. 'What do I have? I have a dead house. I have a cemetery.'"

As Little as Six Years for Sandy Ringleader [gay city news]

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Comments

  1. Was justice served for a hate crime robbery--turned murder-- turned hate crime murder. No.

    We're told that Shurov committed the actual violence that led to the killing of Michael Sandy--he shouldn't have been given a longer sentence.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 9:30:36 AM


  2. Sorry, I meant to say, Shurov SHOULD HAVE received a longer sentence

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 9:33:23 AM


  3. My heart goes out to Sandy's family. I'm now starting to believe what a lot of people have been saying all along...that if the tables were turned and a black man had murdered a white man or woman (straight or gay), the sentence would me much harsher...Just gut wrenching!!

    Posted by: Shabaka | Nov 21, 2007 9:35:39 AM


  4. WOULD HAVE BEEN...Gosh, what's wrong with me this morning...Must be the rain outside!!

    Posted by: Shabaka | Nov 21, 2007 9:37:41 AM


  5. Unlike the other two, Shurov made a plea deal. That's why he escaped the felony conviction, and therefore has a shorter sentence. Smart move on his part.

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 10:40:37 AM


  6. Nothing is too smart for a gay-bashing murderer. He should he raped and dominated while incarcerated.

    Posted by: Dread | Nov 21, 2007 10:45:32 AM


  7. Excellent. Now somebody needs to take this outcome and communicate it to every high school in North America - I'm looking at you HRC. Otherwise the senseless stupidity of this won't act as a deterrent.

    I'm not quite sure for what class this is most appropriate a topic, though.


    www.theskinofmyteeth.com

    David B.

    Posted by: David B. | Nov 21, 2007 10:49:49 AM


  8. Well, "the other two" may not have wanted to kill anybody. Shurov is a anti-gay, racist murderer--the type who shouldn't be allowed to immigrate to this country. Shurov turned what may have been a robbery attempt at "easy prey" into a horrible murder committed because of the victim's sexual orientation and race--a hate crime at its worst.

    For a while, I had questioned whether this was technically a hate crime. Shurov's savage behavior convinced me that his HATRED for Black people and Gay people was indeed his motivation to kill.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 10:54:22 AM


  9. Derrick,

    There's no question that Shurov was the person who became violent at the scene, the person most responsible for Sandy ending up in traffic and getting hit by a car. If they had all gone to trial, he certainly would have deserved the harshest sentence.

    What little I've seen describing Shurov suggests that, of the 3 defendants, he was the most criminally hardcore. But I haven't seen anything which would indicate he either is or isn't racist or anti-gay. He very well may be. But I haven't seen any accounts of his behavior or professed beliefs, or even descriptions from acquaintances, that show me that. Not have I seen anything to indicate that he intended to kill Sandy,let alone what his motivation for that might be.

    Perhaps I've missed important details in the coverage of the case.

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 11:25:15 AM


  10. 24PLAY,

    Why do you suppose Shurov became violent? Why did he chase Michael Sandy?

    One night in the 1990s after leaving "Gay Acres" (Philly's version of a gay public park hangout), I was assaulted by three white guys. There was no robbery attempt, and I didn't hear the words "nigger" or "faggot" during the assault. But I figured it was either because of my race, or my sexual orientation. I don't think it's too far fetched to believe that Mr Sandy's race and sexual orientation had something to do with Shurov's violent attack.

    And it was Mr Shurov's behavior that convinced me that this was a hate crime.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 11:49:09 AM


  11. Derrick,

    No, it's not too far fetched to suspect that bias based on race or sexual orientation had something to do with Shurov's violent behavior. My own experience with young Eastern European immigrants in New York is that some of them are blatantly racist and anti-gay.

    But it is incorrect—and completely wrong—to ASSUME that they did. That is a racist assumption.

    I understand why you might let your own personal experience with racist or anti-gay violence color your thinking here. But Shurov was not one of the men who attacked you. And, as far as I know, there is not a shred of evidence suggesting what Shurov's motive for attacking Sandy was.

    If you can't separately evaluate

    1) a criminal act,
    2) the perpetrator's intention, and
    3) his motive,

    then I hope you never sit on a jury because you would be incapable of hearing a case fairly.

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 12:04:00 PM


  12. 24 PLAY,

    AGAIN, my "racist assumptions" may be just a little justified by Shurov's savage behavior that night. He beat a black gay man who was trying to escape from him, chasing him onto highway traffic, resulting in the black gay man's death. Did Shurov or the other robbers give any explanation as to why he beat and chased Michael Sandy? What did the Assistant District Attorney suggest motivated the violence?

    "...I hope you never sit on a jury..."

    Neither do I, 24PLAY. But if I had sat on this one I would've agreed with the initial verdict by your fellow New Yorkers who found the young savages guilty of a hate crime.

    And guess what? I have a jury duty summons for December 21st. I'll print out your comment(assessing my jury duty suitability) and take it with me to Philly's Criminal Justice Center. Hopefully, they won't choose me.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 12:34:46 PM


  13. Derrick,

    I have been mugged. Twice. Both times the muggers were black. Both times I was punched. In one case, repeatedly. (Perhaps you would have described the mugger's behavior as "savage.")

    I assume I was punched because I refused to just hand over my wallet. That is as far as my assumption of motive goes. It never occurred to me that I was beaten because the muggers hated whites or gays. Do you think I should have just assumed that because the muggers were black that racism or anti-gay bias were motivating factors?

    Is it always a hate crime when someone attacks someone whose race or sexual orientation is different from his own?

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 1:05:55 PM


  14. 24PLAY: First, I'm sorry about the violence you suffered. When those kind of incidents occur we don't know whether we're going to live through it--you fight back, but if you are outnumbered you try to get away. I'm glad you survived.

    The irony here is that whenever Andy posted news on the Sandy Trial, a few times I questioned the use of "hate crime" for this case. I wanted to know whether racial or anti-gay slurs were used during the attack--to prove that the attack was motivated by hate. Then, a recent posting on this blog convinced me that the Sandy killing was a hate crime. The poster, CADENCE, pointed out that this wasn't a "one-time" thing. This group of young savages targeted gay men to rob--it was an on-going assault on gay people. But what made Shurov react so violently? From what I understand his actions even surprised Fortunato and Fox. What was it about Michael Sandy that caused such a violent reaction from Shurov? The prosecutor in this case must have laid out a very convincing case because the jury agreed it was a hate crime.

    Now, let me say something controversial, 24PLAY. For years, when a black criminal attacked a white man it was robbery that was the motivating factor. When a white criminal attacked a black man it was the race that was the factor. That used to be the case. How do I know?-- because rarely was the black victim robbed. I don't know about nowadays.

    (Oh, I'm not including male on female sexual assaults here because the motivation was usually hatred of women (whether the perpetrator was black or white, and no matter whether the victims were black or white.)

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 1:43:28 PM


  15. Derrick, I think Cadence was mistaken. I haven't seen anything to indicate that any of the assailants had previously preyed on gay men. In fact, the NY Mag story made it fairly clear that this was a novel idea for them, proposed by Fox, the one who had experience hooking up via gay chat rooms.

    Shurov wasn't involved in the planning of the robbery. He hooked up with them crew as they were heading out. He had no part in the selection of the victim. Therefore, there is nothing to indicate whether bias played a role in his crimes.

    As for Shurov's violent outburst, the point of my preceding post was that if a robbery victim isn't forthcoming with his valuables, robbers often resort to violence. In that context, Shurov's actions are completely comprehensible to me. Did he have other motivations? Who knows? I don't think he needed any.

    And finally, no jury ever weighed in on whether Shurov committed a hate crime. He was not tried. He plead guilty to both manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes.

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 2:11:18 PM


  16. Also, let's not forget something here. Hate crime or not, if some thugs robbed our beloved relative, chased them onto the highway where they were killed, whould we be satisfied with them receiving the sentences handed out here to the killers of Michael Sandy?

    Well, I guess this case is over.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2007 2:11:28 PM


  17. 24PLay, this is a qoute from Fortunato that was in the NY magazine story about him:

    Fortunato said the plan was "simple enough": "He said he’d done it before, lots of times. He’d meet a gay guy in a chat room and pretend to be gay, too, then flirt a while and arrange a meeting, maybe in a hotel room, then take off with their pot and their money."

    They had done this before, and he even admitted this during the trial. I can't understand why this information didn't have an impact on the jury or on the sentencing.

    Posted by: Cadence | Nov 21, 2007 3:46:58 PM


  18. Anyone who doesn't want to call this a hate crime, or who wants to makes excuses for these murderers just needs to examine how casually they talk about what happened and the prior bashings they committed. I don't think the other gay men who were beaten up by this group look at it as "simple."

    Posted by: Cadence | Nov 21, 2007 4:19:17 PM


  19. Cadence,

    That is not a quote from Fortunato. It's a few sentences from the writer's introduction to the NY article, an article in which he comes to the conclusion that hatred of gays had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes committed.

    If you read the article, as I did, I think you'd come to the conclusion that Fortunato was bullshitting his friends, if he actually did say those things.

    There was absolutely no evidence in the trial that any of the defendants had previously preyed on gay men. And if the prosecution had any evidence of that, you can be sure they would have presented it.

    I repeat: There is no evidence that any of these men had ever previously preyed on gay men.

    Under NYS law, Fortunato and Fox are most definitely guilty of hate crimes because they chose Sandy as a victim because he was gay. End of discussion on that subject.

    And I am making excuses for no one. But I object to Derrick characterizing Shurov as and "anti-gay, racist murderer." There is no evidence of bias on his part, so such a characterization itself smacks of casual racism.

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 5:03:03 PM


  20. 24Play, how can you say in one sentence that these are the authors words, despite the fact that he clearly attributes them to Fortunato, and then in the next say that if Fortunato did say them then he was BS'ing his friends? Do you know this man, or what his motives were?

    Posted by: Cadence | Nov 21, 2007 6:07:43 PM


  21. Cadence,

    In the NY-mag article--which, BTW, is titled "When is a Hate Crime Not a Hate Crime?"--quotations from Fortunato (or any source) appear within quotation marks.

    What you've cited is the writer setting up the crime for his readers by describing the way Fortunato ALLEGEDLY sold the plan to his co-defendants. And I have no doubt that he did sell it that way. What I do doubt is that Fortunato was telling the truth about previously victimizing gays.

    The article also features this passage from the writer:

    "Even if he was framing the whole deal as a way to score drugs, it was the first time he’d told anyone he’d ever met gay men before."

    Note the word "framing." That suggests to me that the writer believes Fortunato was bullshitting about having preyed on gay men in chat rooms before—in order to get his friends to go along with the plan.

    There's also this description of Fortunato being cross-examined by the prosecutor:

    "Then she started listing all the lies he’d told that night: He led Michael Sandy to believe Fisheyefox was just one guy; he allowed Sandy to assume that John Fox was gay; he assured him that he would be alone with John that night. 'It’s fair to say you lied to get what you wanted?' [the prosecutor] asked.

    Anthony thought for a moment before answering.

    'It’s fair to say that,' he said."

    Based on those details, I believe Fortunato was lying about previously preying on gay men. Do you have any testimony or other proof that he had done so? Anything—from any source?

    Three men who had met Fortunato online and hooked up with him were subpoenaed and testified in his trial. Not one of them testified that he had been robbed or otherwise harmed by Fortunato. They uniformly described Fortunato as quiet, a little freakish, and unsure. Do you think for a minute that the prosecutors didn't look for men who had hooked up with Fortunato and been robbed or abused? They didn't present any, so I must assume they found none.

    Now, Cadence, would you please stop polluting threads on this topic by misrepresenting the facts as they have been revealed? Derrick took your earlier assertions that these guys had previously preyed on gays as gospel, and it has warped his perception of justice in the case. How many other readers have the same misconception, thanks to you?

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 21, 2007 6:44:03 PM


  22. "smacks of casual racism"

    Oh, man, please. Do you really believe that I consider myself to be racially superior to white people? And as far as the Sandy case, the neighbors in that neighborhood who called the police couldn't help but see an interracial confrontation. I'm sorry 24PLAY, in this country race is always a factor in an interracial episode--Americans will see it as such.

    And, are you saying that the jurors who saw this as an anti-gay/anti-black assault were less than worthy & intelligent jurors? The prosecutor persuaded them that a hate crime caused the death of Michael Sandy. As a Black Gay, I am somewhat relieved that the jurors saw someone like me as worthy--a human life worth respecting...I guess.

    24PLAY, you seem to be making excuses for the behavior of Shurov that night. His violence left a Black Gay man dead. He deserved more time in prison.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 23, 2007 9:10:44 AM


  23. Derrick,

    As I've said already, the jury passed no judgment on Shurov, just on Fox and Fortunato. And given that Fox & Fortunato selected Sandy to be their victim because he is gay, under NYS law, there is no doubt that a hate crime was committed. An anti-gay hate crime.

    The jury was correct to convict both of them of hate crimes. Even so, it should be noted that at least some of the jurors are not happy with labeling the crime a hate crime. Since the trial ended, some have made comments saying that they don't believe hatred was involved. I believe one has even written a letter to the court saying that he wishes he had not voted to convict on the hate crimes.

    But hatred is not a factor in New York's "hate crimes" law, only bias. The jurors seem uncomfortable with the way the law is written. Nonetheless, they did their duty and followed the law.

    The jurors seem to agree with your original position. You've already posted that you weren't comfortable with this being labeled a hate crime. You only became convinced that it was for two reasons:

    1) Shurov's violence, and

    2) Cadence's assertions that the defendants had previously preyed on gay men.

    But violence happens all the time without racial or anti-gay violence being a factor. I've been violently assaulted by men of a different race as part of robberies, and I think the only motivating factor behind the violence was to force me to hand over my wallet. Why are you so certain Shurov was motivated by hatred?

    And there is absolutely no evidence to support Cadence's accusations of prior anti-gay attacks or robberies. Certainly the prosecutors would have presented any evidence they could find.

    I have to wonder how you and Cadence would feel if this case were reversed, if 4 straight, black men had been responsible for the death of a gay white man they were trying to rob. If I kept insisting that the 4 black men had preyed on gay men before—-with absolutely no evidence of that being the case--would you have a problem with my injecting lies into the discussion? You should. I would be libeling the defendants.

    I've also already said that if Shurov had gone to trial, as the assailant who became violent, he certainly would deserve the harshest sentence. I'm not making any excuses for his behavior. But I am refusing to declare racism a motive where we have no evidence of it. You and Cadence, on the other hand, apparently believe that anytime a crime occurs and the perpetrator and victim are of different races that racism must be a factor. You're wrong.

    Finally, you have a very convenient definition of racism. Attributing racist motives to Shurov simply because he is a young man of Eastern European descent is itself racist.

    But if you're comfortable with your racism, Derrick, so be it. It's certainly better to be a casual racist than a violent one. But in the future, when I read your comments here, I'll think, "Oh, there's that racist Derrick railing about racism again. How ironic."

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 23, 2007 11:41:27 AM


  24. Thanks Andy for all the excellent coverage of this horrible murder,it was the best of any gay site online. And, thanks Derrick and Cadence, for keeping it real in your posts as to how the real world works.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Nov 23, 2007 9:06:38 PM


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