Friends dispute teen hate crime suspects' racism
Friends of the seven Patchogue-Medford High School students charged with killing an Ecuadorian immigrant came out in support of the suspects Tuesday.
Seven teens, who are students at Patchogue-Medford High School, have been charged with first-degree gang assault in the murder of Marcelo Lucero. Jeffrey Conroy, who police say stabbed and killed Lucero during the assault Saturday, is also charged with first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.
Felecia Holoman and another student named Michelle, who did not want to give her last name, say the young men are not racists. They point out that one of the students accused is Puerto Rican. Both say they were with the suspects the night of the killing and said they were going home before Lucero was killed. They maintain the teens did not intend to kill Lucero.
Police in Patchogue say they?re investigating other bias crimes in the wake of an immigrant?s murder after prosecutors say the teens charged in the case attempted another attack days before.
Prosecutors say another Hispanic man has come forward and accused the same seven Patchogue-Medford High School students of attacking him. Carlos Orellana, of Patchogue, says he was ambushed, beaten up and robbed by the teens three months ago.
Lucero?s brother Joselo says he wants justice for his brother. He and civic group Hispanics Across America have retained a lawyer who says they're looking into filing a lawsuit against the teen?s parents as well.
Conroy, 17, was put under suicide watch as a precaution, say police. Prosecutors say all seven teens have admitted to playing a role in the fatal attack.
The case is due before a grand jury. The suspects? classmates say they will raise money for their defense.
Click for reaction from other Patchogue-Medford High School students