Last fall, three men were charged with hate crimes in the October death of Michael Sandy. Prosecutors charged that lya Shurov, Anthony Fortunato, and John Fox had gone to a gay chat room, lured Sandy to Plum Beach, and then robbed and beat him. Sandy ran into the Belt Parkway and died from injuries sustained when he was hit by traffic. Sandy had been in a coma for six days; family took him off a respirator the day after his birthday.

The NY Times reported on yesterday's pretrial hearing, which was very emotional. Fortunato's lawyer "offered a $1.2 million bail package compiled from family real estate holdings," and mentioned that Fortunato would not be a flight risk because then his widowed mother (his father died near the time of the crime) would lose her home. His lawyer also said Fortunato was not acting with hate.

Here's the Brooklyn DA's explanation of why the three were charged with a hate crime:

Typically, according to state law, Hate Crimes are charged when prosecutors believe the defendants acted out of bias against the victims’ race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. But the less used section of the law calls for Hate Crimes to be charged when the defendant “intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed or intended to be committed based on a belief about those same factors.

In this case, District Attorney Hynes charges that the defendants selected their victim based upon a belief about the victim’s sexual orientation then lured him into a trap in an attempt to rob him.

Fortunato, who the Brooklyn DA's office called the "prime mover" in the scheme, was denied bail, and all three suspects remain in jail. The Daily News reports that Sandy's mother Denise was grateful the judge refused bail, saying, "We believe God will turn this around into something good. We were so close, it makes it hard; it's like a part of you was taken. I'm going to leave in my heart the good memories I have of my son."