Yesterday, a jury took seven hours to convict a man of second degree murder as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime in the killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant in December 2008. Keith Phoenix, whose previous trial ended in mistrial, now faces life in prison.

Phoenix and friends were in a car in Brooklyn when they spotted Jose Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel, who were walking arm in arm after a night of drinking. Law enforcement said that Phoenix and Hakim Scott yelled anti-gay and anti-Hispanic epithets and then attacked Sucuzhanay, who was struck with a beer bottle, beaten with a baseball bat and then kicked. Sucuzhanay, who had a real estate business in Brooklyn, died from his injuries days after the attack. Phoenix told the Daily News in a jailhouse interview, "I'm not a killer. I never expected anyone to die... I have remorse for the death.... I looked at it as just a street fight that went bad."

Scott was found guilty of manslaughter, not murder as a hate crime, which disappointed Sucuzhanay's family. Speaking about Phoenix's conviction, Diego Sucuzhanay said, "This verdict sent the right message. We believe that justice has been done for our brother." Gay City News reports that only two of Phoenix's relatives were present "and one rushed from the courtroom after the verdict was read." Phoenix's attorney said, "I think he’s kind of surprised by this result." Apparently Phoenix did not expect the murder as a hate crime or assault convictions.