By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
The men accused of killing Jose Sucuzhañay, the Ecuadorian immigrant beaten to death with a bottle and a baseball bat on a Brooklyn street last December, have been indicted under charges of murder as a hate crime and could face up to 78 years in prison.
Keith Phoenix, 28, and Hakim Scott, 25, were charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault, all of them as hate crimes.
On Dec. 7, Phoenix and Scott allegedly attacked Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel shouting anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs as the brothers walked home, hugging each other, after a party.
“The acts which we charge this morning are no less despicable because the victims Jose and Romel Sucuzhañay were not gay,” Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes said in announcing the indictments, according to The New York Times.
The December attack was the second against Ecuadoreans in the New York area in less than a month, after Marcelo Lucero was beaten to death by a group of high-school students in Patchogue, Long Island. Those arrested in that killing now stand charged with a rampage of attacks against Latinos in the area.
Scott first assaulted Jose Sucuzhañay with a beer bottle before chasing his brother, CNN.com reported.
The Times added:
Mr. Phoenix “rushed from the S.U.V. armed with a baseball bat, ran over to Jose, and repeatedly beat him,” Mr. Hynes said, adding that as Mr. Phoenix walked back to the car he noticed that the victim was still moving.
“Phoenix immediately went back to where Jose was laying and slammed him several more times on the head with the baseball bat until his victim was motionless,” Mr. Hynes said.
Jose Sucuzhañay died a few days later, hours before his mother arrived in New York from Ecuador. Romel Sucuzhanay suffered minor scrapes.
Police said they were able to identify the two suspects when they determined that they had crossed the Triborough Bridge after the crime. They interviewed bridge toll booth employees and combed through videotape of cars passing through cash-only lanes on the bridge to determine identities of suspects.
The SUV the two attackers were driving was identified thanks to a witness who jotted down part of its license plate.
These attacks and several non-fatal others have prompted concern among Latinos in the metropolitan area and among pro-immigrant advocates. Impre.com, the biggest Spanish-language newspaper chain in the country, set up a web page dedicated to special coverage of the rash of hate crimes.