Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser has ruled that the three men charged in the murder of Michael Sandy can be charged with murder as a hate crime. Last October, Anthony Fortunato, John Fox, and Ilya Shurov had lured Michael Sandy through a gay chat room to meet them near the Belt Parkway. When Sandy arrived, they robbed and beat him, causing him to flee into the highway and get hit by a car. Sandy was critically injured and after many days, his family decided to turn take him off life support.
The Brooklyn DA's office charged the trio, who are now 20-21 years old, with murder as a hate crime, but their lawyers argued that the crime did not meet the hate crime definition. One defense lawyer said, "He was targeted because he would (a) come alone, (b) bring drugs and/or money for drugs with him, (c) go to a deserted spot and (d) probably not offer much resistance...Consequently, the crimes alleged are not crimes of hate but rather crimes of opportunity."
Justice Konviser found, "The grand jury evidence shows that this is not a case where hate crimes are charged simply because the victim just happened to be of a particular sexual orientation. Rather, this is a case where the defendants deliberately set out to commit a violent crime against a man whom they intentionally selected because of his sexual orientation. Thus, the hate crimes charges in this case are consistent with the intent of the Legislature."
Hate crime convictions come with much tougher sentences.