Alleged hate killing marked with ceremony

A ceremony was held Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of Marcelo Lucero's death in what authorities say was a brutal hate crime.

Community members, Lucero's family, local religious leaders and officials gathered at a memorial service in Saint Francis De Sales Church to honor the Ecuadorian immigrant. Loved ones say the goal of the prayer service is to remember Lucero's life and bring about change.

Police say Lucero was walking with a friend shortly before midnight near the Patchogue train station a year ago when they were confronted by seven teens. His friend ran away, but Lucero was surrounded, prosecutors say.

He tried to fight back, flailing at the assailants with his belt. At some point, 18-year-old Jeffrey Conroy plunged a knife into Lucero's chest before running away, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say they strengthened their case against the teens this week when one of them, Nicholas Hausch, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and hate crime charges and agreed to testify against the others. The other six defendants, including Conroy, have pleaded not guilty.

AP wire services were used in this report.

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