The definition of a hate crime or at least how hate crimes laws are used seems to be the question of the week. As my regular readers will recall I rasied the question of what is a hate crime in the case of the black West Virginia woman who was kidnaped and tortured by a group of white individuals.
In a twist that is really beyond an atypical defense in the Michael Sandy murder which I have been writing about since it occurred. Charged with an anti-gay hate crime the accused claims that he is gay and therefore incapable of committing a hate crime (see story below). The question in the Michael Sandy case is: can a bias crime be commitment by someone who is in fact the same race, gender or sexual orientation of their victim?
One of my favorite bloggers Keith Boykin answers it this way:
"I don't know if any of that is true or not, but I can't really see how it matters. Even if everyone involved in the murder was a part of some gay fraternity, that doesn't change the fact that they lured Michael Sandy, a black gay man, from his home in Williamsburg to a parking lot in Sheepshead Bay, attempted to rob him, chased him and ran him into traffic where he was struck by cars and killed. Then they rifled through his pockets and stole his money. The defendants are responsible for his murder, plain and simple.Nor does it matter that the defendants might be gay in determining if the killing was a hate crime. Anyone who thinks that gay people cannot be homophobic or can't commit anti-gay crimes isn't too familiar with the concept of internalized homophobia. From Ed Shrock to Larry Craig (who is "not gay") to Mark Foley to Ted Haggard, it seems that closeted gay people can be some of the most self-hating individuals around."
So what do you think?
Bias case bombshell: Outed in gay slay
BY JOHN MARZULLI
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERTuesday, September 18th 2007, 4:00 AM
The alleged mastermind of an ill-fated scheme to lure a gay man to a Brooklyn beach and rob him dropped a bombshell at his murder trial yesterday - he's gay, too.Anthony Fortunato was even looking forward to the possibility of a sexual hookup with the victim at Plumb Beach, said defense lawyer Gerald DiChiara.Fortunato, 21, was outed in a dramatic bid to defuse the hate crime charges against him in connection with Michael Sandy's death last October after he was chased to his death into traffic on the Belt Parkway."This man [Fortunato] has been tortured by a secret he's had for a long time," DiChiara said in his opening statement. "The stakes in this case are too high for him to keep this a secret any longer."DiChiara said his client has been arranging sexual rendezvous with men through the Internet since he was 17. Investigators recovered a cache of homoerotic images and messages from his computer.Fortunato and co-defendant John Fox, 21, face significantly more jail time if they're convicted of murder and attempted robbery as hate crimes, meaning they intentionally targeted the victim because of his sexual orientation.A third suspect, Ilye Shurov will be tried separately, and a fourth, Gary Timmins, is cooperating with authorities.The prosecutor, Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, said the plot was hatched by Fortunato, who told his friends, "You could always get a gay guy to meet you," and trolled a chat room called "Brooklyn Man 4 Man" for a victim. Fortunato boasted he had ripped off a gay man he had lured to a motel in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, she said.Sandy, 28, an interior designer for Ikea, exchanged explicit messages with the group - Fortunato was allegedly typing on his computer and used Fox's e-mail account. Then the victim drove to Plumb Beach for what he thought would be a sexual encounter with one man.After Sandy was struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run and lay in the roadway, Shurov rifled his pockets, prosecutors said."The next day, Fortunato and Fox looked at a newspaper article about the case and laughed," Nicolazzi said.