The trials of two men charged with the
beating and killing of an Ecuadorian immigrant thought to be gay by
his assailants began Tuesday in a Brooklyn, New York courtroom, New
York City-based NY1 reported.
Hakim Scott, 26, and Keith Phoenix, 30,
are facing life sentences if convicted of the second-degree murder as
a hate crime of Jose Sucuzhanay.
Sucuzhanay died from injuries he
sustained on December 7, 2008. Authorities allege Scott and Phoenix
attacked Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel because they thought the
men were gay. The two men were walking home arm-in-arm from a bar in
the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Their attackers yelled
anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs as they beat them. Phoenix is accused
of wielding the death blow to the head with an aluminum bat.
Scott says he's innocent.
Phoenix's lawyer says his client acted
out of self-defense, adding that the brothers provoked the fight when
one of them kicked the SUV the two men were sitting in.
The trial will include two juries –
one for each defendant.