Friday, July 12, 2024

Hate Crime Alleged in Phoenix Shooting

Arizona Watch

The family of a slain Hispanic man in Phoenix is demanding that his death be labeled a hate crime.

Juan Varela, a third-generation Mexican-American, was slain in his front yard by a neighbor who allegedly repeated racial slurs and told him to “go back to Mexico” or he would die.

Gary Thomas Kelley was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault.

While the police have initially characterized the altercation as a drunken feud between neighbors, the Maricopa County Attorney’s office has said the agency would consider adjusting the charges to first-degree murder and resubmitting to a grand jury if new evidence indicated a premeditated murder.

Hate crimes carry a stiffer penalty upon conviction and sentencing.

This incident comes amidst heightened tensions in the state of Arizona where recent passage of a controversial new anti-immigration law has lead to protests and denouncements from the local to the national level.  Fears of racial profiling against Latino have been cited as one of the main objections over the new law.

“The hate against Latinos has reached a fever pitch in Arizona,” said Carlos Galindo, a Hispanic Christian radio-show host who has helped the family of the victim.

Varela was the father of a 13-year-old girl and a volunteer Little League coach.
Read more: AZ Central