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Keith Phoenix was convicted of murder as a hate crime yesterday, for the 2008 killing of Ecuadorian immigrant José Sucuzhañay and the attempted assault of his brother, Romel. Phoenix was found guilty in a retrial, after a holdout juror led to a mistrial earlier this year.
Phoenix and his accomplice, Hakim Scott, attacked the brothers in Bushwick in December 2008. The pair taunted the brothers for being Hispanic and thought they were gay because they were huddled together for warmth on the cold night.
Scott was convicted earlier this year of manslaughter for busting a beer bottle over José’s skull and chasing Romel with it. Phoenix was convicted yesterday of bashing José’s skull with a baseball bat until he killed him. Phoenix’s murder conviction carried the extra burden of being a hate crime, but Scott’s manslaughter conviction did not.
Last night’s news is being welcomed in the gay and immigrant rights’ communities, who are particularly concerned about violence against Latinos and immigrants right now. The Staten Island Advance reported last night that just over the weekend, two Hispanic men were critically beaten.
The first incident, in what the Advance describes as a case that “has earmarks of being another in the series of attacks on Hispanic men that has plagued the North Shore since April,” involved an 18-year-old high school junior being beaten in front of a convenience store. This occurred just hours before Alejandro Galindo, a 52-year-old Mexican day laborer, was viciously attacked by three men, who left him with a “fractured eye socket and brain trauma.”
The NYPD has labeled the latter attack a hate crime. As the Advance notes, Galindo is the fourth Mexican immigrant to be beaten on the Island’s North Shore in the past three months.