Immigrant, LGBT Leaders Blast Verdict in Hate Crime Case

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NEW YORK -- Immigrant and LGBT rights leaders said they were disappointed that Hakim Scott was acquitted of a hate crime and murder Thursday in the fatal beating of Ecuadoran immigrant José Sucuzhañay. Scott, 26, was convicted of manslaughter. The jury is still deliberating in the case of Scott's co-defendant Keith Phoenix, 30, who was also charged with a hate crime.

On Dec. 7, 2008, José Sucuzhañay was walking down the street arm-in-arm with his brother, when the suspects allegedly yelled racial and anti-gay epithets at him before beating him to death.

A group of elected officials and representatives of immigrant organizations, the LGBT community, and the Ecuadoran government joined the Sucuzhañay family Friday to express their disappointment with the verdict.

"We thank the jury for their service, but with all respect, they were very wrong," said Council President Christine Quinn. "José Sucuzhañay was killed because Scott Hakim and Keith Phoenix did not like who he was or who they thought he was. And they attacked him for no other reason than their hatred of the gay community and their hatred of Latino and immigrant community."

The victim's brother, Diego Sucuzhañay, said, "Our family still cannot understand how the jury has reached a conclusion that the attack on my brothers and the murder of José was not motivated by hate. The judicial system has failed to send a clear message. This could encourage more hate."