Saturday, July 20, 2024

Guilty Verdict for Two Men Charged in Fatal Hate-fueled Beating of Mexican Immigrant

A federal court in Pennsylvania found two men guilty yesterday in the beating death of Luis Ramirez, an immigrant from Mexico, who police say was targeted because of his race and nationality.

“Four people attacked one person because of his race and because they didn’t want people like him living in their town,” prosecutor Myesha K. Braden said.  Her remarks came during the closing arguments of the defendants’ federal trial.  Colin J. Walsh and Brian Scully are the other two teens that participated in the crime.  Scully agreed to testify for prosecutors in exchange for a trial in juvenile court and Walsh pled guilty for his role and is awaiting sentencing as part of a plea deal.

Derrick M. Donchak, 20, of Shenandoah, and Brandon J. Piekarsky, 18, of Shenandoah Heights, were previously acquitted of murder charges in state court.  At the time they were convicted of simple assault, which many Latino groups decried.  Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also urged the federal government to pursue the case.

An all-white jury deliberated on the case for approximately six and a half hours before reaching a guilty verdict, which was hailed by Ramirez’ widow, Crystal Dillman.

“It’s nice to know that there is some justice for Luis,” Dillman said.

On July 12, 2008, Ramirez was repeatedly kicked in the head by the defendants after falling down while they hurled racist language at him during the attack, witnesses testified.

Dillman says she won’t completely move on until the trial of the police officers accused of obstructing justice is over.

“I won’t completely move on until the federal trial of the police officers is done,” she said, “until it is proven that there was a conspiracy to stop justice.”

She says her two children are still coming to terms with the absence of their father, not fully comprehending his death.

“They are coming to grips with the fact that their father is dead,” she said. “They don’t understand where their father went and why he’ll never come home. They will never comprehend this.”

The top civil rights official for the Obama Administration said he is pleased with the outcome.

“This jury’s verdict demonstrates that violence aimed at preventing people from living in America because of their race, national origin, or ethnicity is intolerable,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Department of Justice, said. “As this case illustrates, the Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the rights of every person who lives in this country to do so free of racially based violence and intimidation.”