A judge ruled on Aug 2 that the actions of three men accused in the death of Michael Sandy in Brooklyn last October fall within the realm of the state’s hate crimes law. District Attorney Charles J. Hynes had sought to charge John Fox, Ilya “Alex” Shurov and Anthony Fortunato, all 20, with hate crimes although there is no evidence they were motivated by hatred for gay men.
The three men allegedly lured Sandy, a 29-year-old gay African-American, to a sex meeting at Plumb Beach in Sheepshead Bay, where he fled onto the Belt Parkway and was struck by a car after they allegedly tried to rob him. He clung to life support and died in the hospital on Oct 13.
Hynes says the fact that the defendants selected Sandy as a victim on the basis of his sexual orientation, thinking he would be less likely to resist, makes their alleged acts hate crimes. The men are charged with various counts of second-degree murder, attempted robbery, manslaughter and assault, to which the hate crimes charges have been added.
September 10 has been set as the trial date for Fortunato and Fox. Shurov, for whom no trial date has been set yet, will be tried separately. If they are convicted of hate crimes, it will increase their minimum prison sentence.
A fourth defendant, Gary Timmins, 16, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery as a hate crime last year. He is believed to be cooperating with the prosecution.