The Sentencing of Keith Phoenix and Hakim Scott -- and a Vigil You Can Attend

Keith Phoenix and Hakim Scott were sentenced yesterday for the 2008 attacks against José and Romel Sucuzhañay. Phoenix and Scott were sentenced together, though they had been tried separately for the assault that left José Sucuzhañay dead.

According to a press release from Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hines, Pheonix was sentenced „to 25 years to life on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime and 12 years for Attempted Assault in the First Degree as a Hate Crime.‰

Scott, whose lawyer argued that "hitting someone with a bottle should not rise to the level of a manslaughter conviction," was convicted of just that -- breaking a bottle over the head of José Sucuzhañay and standing by as Phoenix bashed his skull in with a bat, before chasing Romel Sucuzhañay with the broken bottle.

Scott's sentence is for "25 years for Manslaughter in the First Degree and 12 years for Attempted Assault in the First Degree, for a total of 37 years."

Phoenix and Scott have both added a dozen years to their sentences for yelling anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs as they brutally attacked their victims. As the D.A.‚s announcement notes, "The defendants saw the brothers walking arm-in-arm, and mistaking them for homosexuals, shouted anti-gay slurs," before they "exited the car calling out anti-Hispanic slurs." However, the Sucuzhañay brothers were just cold in the December night, and were huddling to keep warm.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project, which submitted a statement to the court prior to the sentencing, says that "José Sucuzhañay was attacked for being Ecuadorian and because the perpetrator perceived him to be gay." The group also notes that this sentencing comes in the midst of a wave of similar attacks against gays and Hispanics on Staten Island. AVP will be holding a candlelight vigil and march this Saturday night at 8:30 PM, from Staten Island's Borough Hall to the Port Richmond White Castle where a gay Latino couple was attacked last month.


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