Updated 04/24/2010 11:33 AM
Teens Indicted On Assault Charges In Alleged Bias Attack
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A Staten Island grand jury voted Friday to indict four teenagers in connection with an alleged bias attack on a Mexican immigrant.
The jury declined to indict them on hate crime charges, but did charge each suspect with two counts of first- and second-degree robbery, one count of first- and second-degree gang assault, and one count of fourth-degree grand larceny.
Rolston Hopson, William Marcano and Tyrone Goodman, all 17, along with a 15-year-old who has not being named because of his age, face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Goodman and Marcano were released on bail. Hopson is being held at Rikers Island on $10,000 bail. The minor was remanded to the custody of his parents.
The teens are accused of beating up Rodolfo Olmedo, 26, on April 5th in Port Richmond. Police said the group of teens beat Olmedo with a baseball bat and robbed him while yelling anti-Mexican slurs.
Olmedo is recovering from a fractured skull he suffered in the attack.
District Attorney Daniel Donovan said he thinks the jury decided to not indict the teenagers on hate crime charges since they believed the boys thought Olmedo was part of a group of Mexicans they had had tangled with earlier that evening.
"It has to be the motive of the defendant to commit the crime based on some belief of someone's religion, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity and we have to prove that is either the whole or the substantial part of their motive for committing the crime," said Donovan.
Word that the jury did not vote for hate-crime charges shocked the Port Richmond community.
"What has happened here is not reflective of who we are, but we have to be sure that even on the margins and on the fringe, if there is this level of hatred, if there is this level of bias, if there is this level of intolerance or disrespect, that we nip that in the bud," said community activist Terry Troia. "It was clearly an act of hate and wanton disregard for life, clearly."
"It's disgusting what happened - and also, if the police got them on tape saying racial slurs, they really should be charged," said Kim Weeks, a Port Richmond resident.
As of Friday, a police car was outside of Olmedo's Port Richmond home.
Sources say the new police protection came after Olmedo was awoken by shouting outside his house at 4 a.m. Thursday and saw men wearing hooded sweatshirts dumping a garbage can on top of a car parked out front. Olmedo was already living in fear and asked for extra police security.
The four suspects will be arraigned in Supreme Court on Wednesday.