The second man accused of beating an openly gay man in Queens Friday morning was been returned to NYC last night, after being arrested in Norfolk, Virginia, late Tuesday. But the sister of suspect Daniel Rodriguez, 21, insists her brother did not commit a hate crime—because he has gay relatives and even once had a homosexual roommate. Christina Rodriguez tells the Daily News, "This wasn't a hate crime. If he's guilty of anything, he'll man up to it." Rodriguez's brother Eddie also vouched for him.

"I know he's far away from being a hateful person. He don't hate nobody," insists brother Eddie Rodriguez. NYPD sources say the other suspect, 26-year-old Daniel Aleman, is claiming that Rodriguez instigated the assault, and he simply joined in for no good reason. According to one source, Aleman has told investigators, "Me being a stupid ass took a couple of cheap shots on the white guy."

The brutal assault, which was captured in horrific detail by a surveillance camera, left victim Jack Price in the hospital with two collapsed lungs, a lacerated spleen, broken ribs and a broken jaw. After emerging from a medically-induced coma, he is now off a respirator and was undergoing surgery last night. His sister-in-law JoAnne Guarneri says, "He's speaking. He's our miracle. God wasn't ready to take him yet."

During last night's perp walk at the 109th Precinct stationhouse, Rodriguez was asked, "Why did you beat him up and call him those names?" Rodriguez responded, "I didn't call him no names." Like Aleman, he is expected to be formally charged with second-degree assault as a hate crime and face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.