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Teen guilty of Ecuadoran’s bias killing

Associated Press / April 20, 2010

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — A former high school athlete was convicted yesterday of manslaughter as a hate crime in the killing of an Ecuadoran immigrant, a case that sparked a federal inquiry on how police investigate bias attacks against Hispanics.

Jeffrey Conroy, 19, was one of seven teenagers implicated in the November 2008 stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero in what prosecutors say was the culmination of a campaign of violence targeting Hispanics on Long Island.

Conroy shook his head slightly when the verdict was announced in the packed courtroom. He was acquitted of two counts of murder, including one count as a hate crime, but was convicted of manslaughter, gang assault, and conspiracy in the Lucero killing.

He also was found guilty of three counts of attempted assault in an attack on Lucero’s friend, as well as two other Hispanic men before the stabbing.

“The hunting season is over, at least for now,’’ the victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero, said later at a news conference with his mother and sister at his side.

The Rev. Alan Ramirez, a family spokesman and longtime advocate for Hispanics on Long Island, commended the district attorney’s office for obtaining the conviction.

“They have extracted a tumor, but the illness, the disease, the cancer of hatred in this community will remain, and it will be the responsibility of the political leaders to begin to extract it,’’ said Ramirez, who has long blamed an atmosphere of intolerance by elected officials for fomenting anti-Hispanic sentiment.

Four other defendants have pleaded guilty to hate crime-related charges, and two others are awaiting trial.

Prosecutors said Conroy was the one who inflicted the fatal wound in a midnight fight near the Patchogue train station.

He faces eight to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 26.

District Attorney Thomas Spota called the verdict fair, but defense attorney William Keahon said he would appeal.