Partial Justice Is Justice Denied
posted at 12:14 pm on May 7, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
One of two men accused of bludgeoning a third man to death with a bottle and a baseball bat was convicted of manslaughter yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He faces up to 40 years in prison, which ordinarily would be a satisfactory remedy to a crime with elements of depraved indifference (the killers joked and laughed after the crime) and serve as proof that the system works.
In the case of Hakim Scott, however, there were “extenuating circumstances” that—were he the victim rather than the accused—would have gasbags likes Al Sharpton and other “community leaders” holding vigils outside the court and blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge now that a verdict has been rendered.
In addition to the charge of murder, Scott and fellow piece of dirt Keith Phoenix (whose fate has yet to be determined), were charged with the commission of a hate crime, which carries far more serious penalties.
And there seems little doubt that a hate crime is what the two committed the night they savagely beat Ecuadorian immigrant José O. Sucuzhañay to death on a Brooklyn Street in December of 2008. The two were in a car stopped at a red light when they spotted two men walking arm-in-arm. Assuming the men were gay, Phoenix let fly with a stream of racist and homophobic invective, calling the pair “f-ggot ass n——!” The men, Sucuzhañay and his cousin Romel, it would later be revealed, were huddling together as they walked because the temperature was in the teens that night.
Never mind that the jury was willing to overlook the incriminating testimony of Demetrius Nathaniel, a cousin of Phoenix who was in the car, or even the fact that Scott and Phoenix required separate trials because each of the “friends” ratted out the other to police investigators.
Consider instead the behavior that fueled the crime in the first place, namely Scott and Phoenix spying two men whom they assumed were gay and feeling the need to assail them verbally. Consider also how different the outcome of this trial might have been had the roles of victim and villain in it been reversed.
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