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Gay Forces Murdered In The U.S.A.
Michael Sandy, 29, New York, Oct 13 2006

Information gathered from many sources

Original story about conviction of Anthony Fortunato

District Attorney's Press Release (included below)

Michael Sandy, 29, Attacked Oct 08 2006, Died Oct 13 2006, in New York

Jury Calls 'Gay-On-Gay' Robbery Resulting In Death A Bias Crime

On Oct 11 2007 a Brooklyn, New York jury found that a gay man who lured another gay man to his death on Oct 08 last year, in a plot to steal the victim's money and buy pot, was guilty of a bias crime despite their shared sexual orientation. Sandy died Friday Oct 13 2006 at Brookdale Hospital after his family took him off life support.

Anthony Fortunato, 21, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and attempted petit larceny for his role in a scheme that resulted in the death of Michael Sandy. During his trial, Fortunato claimed that he "could be gay" or bisexual, in an effort to avoid the bias crimes sentencing enhancement.

He was acquitted of murder charges which would have carried a minimum 25-year sentence.

The jury foreman, who shot Fortunato a regret-filled look when he read the verdict, said outside the courthouse that he felt the bias-crime law was unjustly applied by the district attorney.

"It's absurd," said the foreman, Eric Zaccar, a playwright. "It is a great law when it applies to fat white guys with baseball bats beating up a black man, or gays, or Jews. But when it applies to one gay person seeking out another gay person, it's absurd."

Fortunato and his heterosexual friends hatched a plan to lure Sandy - whom they sought out in a gay online chat room - to a secluded beach where they planned to take his money and purchase marijuana. Sandy was chased onto the Belt Parkway, where he was hit by a car.

Jury foreman Zaccar said he only backed down in the end because he was afraid Fortunato might be convicted of murder in a retrial. A week earlier, another defendant, John Fox, was convicted of manslaughter as a bias crime.



Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes
Announces Indictments in Bias Murder


Plans To Apply Little-Used Section Of Hate Crime Statute


Brooklyn, October 25, 2006

Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the indictment of three men charged with hate crimes for murdering Michael Sandy, a 28-year-old gay man they targeted because of his sexual orientation.

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.

The three defendants, Ilya Shurov, 20; Anthony Fortunato, 20, and John Fox, 19, are charged with numerous counts, including Murder in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime and Attempted Robbery in the First Degree as a Hate Crime. If convicted, they could serve 25 years to life in prison.

Shurov, Fortunato, and Fox met Sandy in an online gay male chat room, where they arranged to meet him at Plumb Beach, in Sheepshead Bay, a popular meeting spot for gay men seeking sexual encounters. There, the defendants intended to rob Sandy. When the three men approached Sandy, one of the defendants punched him and Sandy ran. They chased Sandy onto the Belt Parkway, where he was hit by a car. Sandy died Friday October 13, at Brookdale Hospital, after his family took him off life support.

Assistant District Attorney Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi is prosecuting the case for the Homicide Bureau. Kenneth Taub is Chief of the Homicide Bureau.

Contact: Jonah Bruno 718-250-2300



Anthony Fortunato, a defendant in the hate-crime slaying of Michael Sandy in Brooklyn, insisted he went along with a drug scheme targeting the victim only to give himself a chance to confess to pals that he, too, was gay - and never intended any harm. Fortunato was charged with murder as a hate crime in the death of Sandy. The public declaration that he's gay is apparently designed to prove that he did not commit a hate crime.

Fortunato testified in court that he "could be gay" or bisexual, but he still became the second man to be convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime in the targeted robbery of Sandy which resulted in his death.

Fortunato, who set up the deadly robbery, had a load of gay porn on his own computer, an NYPD computer-crimes expert testified. The fact that Fortunato was e-mailing pictures of naked men would seemed to bolster his claim that he is gay - and couldn't be guilty of a hate crime against Sandy. Sandy was targeted because he was gay - it doesn't matter if the targeters were gay or not - so the verdicts upheld the hate crime sentencing.

Fortunato and co-defendant John Fox, 21, originally faced up to life in prison for using a gay chat site to lure Sandy from his Williamsburg home to a deserted spot on Plumb Beach, off the Belt Parkway. Sandy was struck and killed by a car when he ran onto the highway while fleeing the men.

A friend of Fox and Fortunato, Joseph Folio, 17, testified that the day after the botched robbery, the two men were laughing over a New York Post headline: "Left for dead in thug attack."

Fortunato was just looking to hook up, his lawyer said in his opening statement. Fortunato was hoping to tell his hooligan friends he was gay the night they killed Michael Sandy, said defense attorney Gerald DiChiara in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

Instead, Fortunato came out to his family, as well as the judge and jury in the courtroom where he faced charges of second-degree murder as a hate crime. The admission apparently was designed to convince jurors that whatever Fortunato may be guilty of, it's not a hate crime. It didn't work.

"He'd been leading a secret life through the Internet, meeting men and having sex with them," DiChiara said.

Prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi said that on Oct 08 2006 Fortunato hatched the idea to meet a man in a gay chat room, direct him to a secluded pickup spot on Plumb Beach and rob him. He bragged to his friends - Ilya Shurov, 21, John Fox, 21, and Gary Timmins, 17 - that gay men were easy targets, adding he had pulled a similar ambush before.

But defense attorney DiChiara said Fortunato had a more complex plan in mind: He hoped to take Sandy's money, buy pot, smoke it with his friends, tell them he was gay - and then maybe get lucky with Sandy. But Shurov sucker-punched Sandy, who fled onto the Belt Parkway. A witness said the attackers pinned Sandy to the hood of a car before he wrenched away - straight into an oncoming vehicle.



Story in The New York Times
By Al Baker
Published: October 12, 2006

McCartha L. Lewis, Mr. Sandy’s aunt, said the family was rallying to support her nephew as he remained in critical condition yesterday at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. She said that Mr. Sandy was in a coma with his breathing supported by a respirator, and that the family was struggling with whether to remove him from it.

Ms. Lewis said the family wanted to wait at least until today, Mr. Sandy’s 29th birthday, before making that decision.

“The doctors want us to pull the plug, but I told them no,” said Ms. Lewis, 66, a singer who lives in Jamaica, Queens.

Mr. Sandy’s father, Ezekiel E. Sandy Sr., is Ms. Lewis’s brother, and she said that another of his sons, Tony, had come from Tobago to be with the family.

“He’s a very good boy,” Ms. Lewis said of Michael Sandy. “He is a hard worker and he is very nice.”


3 Charged in Hate Crimes; Brooklyn Victim Is in a Coma
Three Brooklyn men were charged with hate crimes yesterday in connection with an attack on a man who was lured to a desolate meeting place Sunday night, robbed and forced onto the Belt Parkway, where he was struck by a car and critically injured, the police said.

John Fox, 19
John Fox, 19, center, has been charged in the Brooklyn attack. Photo: Daniel Barry for The New York Times

The victim, Michael J. Sandy, 28, of Brooklyn, was still in a coma yesterday, relatives said. The attack is being treated as a hate crime because investigators believe the assailants singled out Mr. Sandy for being gay and arranged over the Internet to meet him at a place often visited by gay men. One other man was being questioned yesterday in connection with the attack, the police said. Officials said a group of as many as four men orchestrated the rendezvous in order to rob Mr. Sandy, telling him in Internet messages to bring enough money for a hotel room.

At 9:40 p.m. on Sunday at the meeting place — a narrow, garbage-strewn parking lot near Sheepshead Bay, sandwiched between Plumb Beach and the eastbound lanes of the parkway — Mr. Sandy, 28, was attacked by at least two of the men, the police said. He backed away from them and, at one point, darted into the path of a car, which struck him and kept going, the police said. The police were still seeking the driver of the car that struck Mr. Sandy.

Other cars on the highway were forced to stop as the attack spilled across three lanes of roaring traffic. One witness told detectives that after Mr. Sandy was struck by the car, she saw a man drag him to the shoulder of the Belt Parkway and rifle his pockets.

Detectives investigating Internet communications Mr. Sandy had had were led to the first suspect, John Fox, 19, of Knapp Street in Brooklyn, who is a sophomore at SUNY Maritime College. The other two suspects are Gary Timmins, 16, of Gerritsen Beach, and Ilye Shurova, 20, of Sheepshead Bay. The three men were charged yesterday with first-degree assault as a hate crime, and first- and second-degree robbery, also as hate crimes, according to the police. The men face a potentially longer prison term than if the hate crime statute was not applied, according to a spokesman for Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney.

The fourth suspect was being questioned at the 61st Precinct stationhouse in Brooklyn last night, the police said. It was unclear what role each of the four men played in the incident, according to the police.

“The perpetrators had an online interaction with the victim, and they lured him,” said one investigator, referring to what he said was an exchange of AOL instant messages over the course of about an hour.

When asked why the case was being classified as a hate crime, the investigator said: “Because of the totality of the evolution of the crime.”

But the case underlined the fine distinction prosecutors must consider when applying the state’s hate crime law. Under the law, established in 2000, a hate crime is typically defined as one in which a victim is chosen because of race, color, sexual orientation, religious practice or some other protected category, said Brian S. MacNamara, an assistant professor of law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“The prosecutor will have to prove that in the underlying assault and robbery the victim was targeted in some way because of his sexual orientation,” said Professor MacNamara. “It’s a little bit tricky because, obviously, the main crime was the robbery, so you have to prove that the motivation for selecting that victim was substantially because he was gay.”

As Mr. Fox was led from the precinct station yesterday, his hands cuffed behind his back, his father, John Sr., yelled out, “John, I care about you.”

He later defended his son to reporters, speaking about his son’s goal of becoming a naval officer, and said he was perplexed by the hate-crime charge. “He never did anything like that before,” the elder Mr. Fox said. “Why would he be rabidly anti-gay? I don’t know.”

McCartha L. Lewis, Mr. Sandy’s aunt, said the family was rallying to support her nephew as he remained in critical condition yesterday at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. She said that Mr. Sandy was in a coma with his breathing supported by a respirator, and that the family was struggling with whether to remove him from it.

Ms. Lewis said the family wanted to wait at least until today, Mr. Sandy’s 29th birthday, before making that decision.

“The doctors want us to pull the plug, but I told them no,” said Ms. Lewis, 66, a singer who lives in Jamaica, Queens.

Mr. Sandy’s father, Ezekiel E. Sandy Sr., is Ms. Lewis’s brother, and she said that another of his sons, Tony, had come from Tobago to be with the family.

“He’s a very good boy,” Ms. Lewis said of Michael Sandy. “He is a hard worker and he is very nice.”

Ann Farmer, Daryl Khan and Kate Meyer contributed reporting.






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