HRC Blog

Defendants Sentenced in Hate Crime Slaying of José Sucuzhanay

On June 28, 2010, a New York State Supreme Court jury convicted Keith Phoenix of committing two hate crimes for beating José Sucuzhanay to death and attacking the victim's brother, Romel, in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood after mistaking the Ecuadorian immigrants as a gay couple. Yesterday, Judge Patricia M. Di Mango determined that Pheonix and his accomplice, Hakim Scott, will serve a minimum prison term of just over three decades for the 2008 murder of José and the attempted assault on his brother Romel. While Phoenix was convicted of a hate crime, Scott was not.

A mistrial had previously been declared on May 11th, when one juror held out for a lesser charge of manslaughter while the other 11 jurors believed that second-degree murder should be applied. Unlike the second jury, the first jury did not believe Phoenix’s acts were bias-motivated. HRC applauds Judge DiMango for holding both Phoenix and Scott accountable for their actions with an appropriate prison sentence.

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