Friends testify Conroy has white power tattoo

(AP) - A teenager accused of murder in the hatecrime stabbing of an Ecuadorean immigrant had tattoos depicting aswastika and a symbol he said represented "white power,"witnesses testified Tuesday.

The defendant, Jeffrey Conroy, was watching the HBO prison drama"Oz" in April 2008 when he decided it would be cool to gettattoos, said Keith Brunjes, who described himself as Conroy's bestfriend. Over the course of several weeks, Brunjes applied a startattoo to one of Conroy's arms, a lightning bolt on the other armand the swastika on his upper right thigh.

Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell asked if theydiscussed what the tattoos symbolized. "He just said, `If I evergo to jail, I'm screwed,"' replied Brunjes.

Alyssa Sprague, 17, said she'd only known Conroy about two weeksbefore he was arrested. He and another friend were at her house fordinner on the evening Lucero was killed when he showed her thelightning bolt tattoo.

"I thought it was a Gatorade symbol. He said, no, it was whitepower," she testified.

Sprague testified that Conroy left her home with a knife thatanother teenager had previously left there. Prosecution evidenceindicates the knife was found on one of the other suspects, but wasnot used in the killing.

Conroy, 19, is one of seven Long Island teenagers implicated inthe Lucero's Nov. 8, 2008, death, but he is the only one beingprosecuted on charges of murder and manslaughter as a hate crime;prosecutors say Conroy is the one who actually stabbed Lucero.

He has pleaded not guilty and is the first to face trial. Fourof his co-defendants have pleaded guilty to hate crime-relatedcharges and could testify against him.

Prosecutors contend Lucero's death was the culmination of acampaign of violence that targeted Hispanic immigrants. Since thekilling, the U.S. Justice Department has said it is investigatinghate crimes in Suffolk County and the police response to them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report in Septemberthat catalogued a litany of anti-immigrant attacks dating back adecade.

Conroy and his six friends were arrested within minutes of themidnight stabbing, only blocks from where Lucero was killed.

The four teens who pleaded guilty admitted participating inother attacks on Hispanics, confessing they and their accomplicesfrequently used racial epithets when confronting victims. In oneinstance, a Hispanic man was shot with a BB gun.

Lucero, 37, came to the United States when he was 21. He waswalking with a friend when they were confronted by a group ofteens. His friend fled, but Lucero was surrounded, prosecutors say.He tried to fight back, flailing at the assailants with his belt,before being fatally stabbed.

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