Guilty Verdict Reached In Brooklyn Hate Crime Killing
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A Brooklyn jury has found 21-year-old Anthony Fortunato guilty second degree manslaughter as a hate crime and petty larceny in the killing of a gay man last year.
Prosecutors said Fortunato — who had been charged with murder as a hate crime — was one of four men who lured Michael Sandy to Plum Beach with the promise of gay sex, but then attacked him and chased him onto the Belt Parkway, where he was hit by a car and killed.
The defense claimed Fortunato couldn't be guilty of a hate crime, because he himself is gay.
The hate crime element of the conviction could mean extra time in prison for Fortunato, who faces from five to 25 years in prison.
"My client turned to me and he thanked me and he's crying because he obviously knows the ramifications for any kind of a conviction of a hate crime is very serious. The time that he is facing is substantial," said defense attorney Gerald Di Chiara.
"It's been a painful week and there's a lot of things we are still struggling with — a lot of things we are trying to overcome, but my son's death will not fade away," said the victim's father Zeke Sandy.
Prosecutors said Fortunato and the others targeted Sandy because they thought his sexual orientation would make him easier to rob.
Last week, a separate jury found another man in Fortunato's group, John Fox, guilty of robbery and manslaughter as hate crimes but not guilty of murder.
A third man has pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, and a fourth is being tried separately.