Trial Concludes for Brutal Murder of Ecuadorian Immigrant

In December 2008, Ecuadorian immigrant Jose Sucuzhañay was walking in Brooklyn with his brother when two men attacked and taunted them with racial and homophobic slurs. While his brother was not seriously injured, Sucuzhañay was knocked unconscious with a broken bottle, and then repeatedly attacked with an aluminum baseball bat. He died soon after being declared brain-dead.

This past Thursday, Keith Phoenix and Hakim Scott were sentenced to 37 years in prison. Phoenix was found guilty of second degree murder and assault as a hate crime, while Scott was convicted of manslaughter and assault but acquitted of murder and hate crime charges.

Phoenix and Scott blamed their actions on alcohol and claimed they were not hateful, but Judge Patricia DiMango held no sympathy. “It is beyond the comprehenson of any civilized individual to think that for any reason at all that another person motivated by … the sport of it, would take another human being’s life in such a cruel and wanton manner,” she told them. 

After the sentencing, Sucuzhañay’s mother Julia Quintuna stated through an interpreter, “This is a very sad day. It’s sad for my family and for the family of the defendants. I feel very sorry for the defendants, and of course there is a huge emptiness in my heart because of my son.” She revealed that he leaves behind two young children.

Sucuzhañay’s brother Diego moved back to Ecuador soon after his brother’s death, and would not comment on the sentencing because the trial brought back too many painful memories. However he did announce that his family was creating the Sucuzhañay Foundation, “to create and fundraise and help the [New York City Police Department] with compensation, rewards for information that can help capture those responsible for those attacks motivated by hatred.” In addition the foundation aims to provide economic assistance to victims of hate crimes and their families.

This verdict comes several months after the trial of another high-profile hate crime in New York involving the brutal murder of another Ecuadorian immigrant, resulting in the eighteen-year-old murderer being convicted of manslaughter.



Zoraida Colon-collado
Zoraida colon7 years ago

It would be my sincere hope that those people who have been "hate mongering" in the news and online about how "dangerous" and unwanted aliens are in America, legal or illegal, would feel some share in the guilt of this murder of an innocent man and father of two, and the many others that go unreported because of fear, but that would be asking that they have a conscience, and could not be. Hate and suspicion sell papers, TV and boost the careers of otherwise unnotable politicians, so it will go on. The medical bills for this man and others being attacked should go to Rush and his ilk, as they helped create this hysteria. Of course logical men would not take their fears to the streets in this manner, but as we can plainly see, there are too many weak minded individuals who see this as a literal call to arms. I'm surprised they did not say they were defending their country! I have stated before, and will state again, the pen is mightier than the sword and many times more dangerous. The words you say in haste and anger could cost someone their life, as we see here. When we condone this type of vigilantism in our streets, we are setting the stage for the next American Revolutionary War, and it won't be pretty. There are more poor and desperate people in our streets than ever before, with little to lose. All it will take is the right match to light that fire, and I have a feeling it is not far away. This is just the beginning of the backlash. Stay tuned.

johan l.
paul l7 years ago

We may call it manslaughter or plain vicious murder but xenophobia can be a cruel crime.
In S.Africa blacks primarily from Zimbabwe and Mocambique have been set alight and murdered that way. Some of them even had their miserable little huts burned with the whole family inside irrespective of the age of little ones!
It is no consolation that this does not only happen in South Africa! I have a lot of respect for the mother of the murdered young man who has a great deal of sympathy for the murderers. I don't think I would have been this kind-hearted!
In fact I know, I wouldn't have been!

Juan Pablo de la Torre

Even considering that a murder is a murder, racism and homophobia should be considered crimes when taken to actions.

Judith H.
Judith H7 years ago

manslaughter? It sounds like plain old murder to me!

Phil Smith
Phil Smith7 years ago

And we wonder Why So Many People in the rest of the world hates Americans.. As parents and teachers and mentors ~ We are Failing..

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

May the victim's mother know that decent people care about her. Although nothing will EVER relieve the pain of losing a child may she know that those who have done this to her family will be punished. This earth only offers a partial punishment- they will carry this with them for the rest of their lives. May those lives be as bitter as a mother's tears for her murdered son.

ChanTlalok Rain C.

We all know the poblems of this so called modern world we live in. True love, care, respect, etc., etc. doesn't exit like it use to 50 years plus ago. We truly are living in sad times and the future looks grimmer. Seriously alcohol/fire water is a demon, marijuana should be legalized because I've never heard of someone doing mean things under it's influence. God Bless everyone and prayers for the familes.

Sharon Balloch
Sharon Balloch7 years ago

That is why they call it demon rum.. ruined many lives in such a short time with such a small amount of liquid.
That his Mom felt sorry for the boys and their parents is a testament to her forgivness. I am betting she raised kind and loving boys.. my heart goes out to her.

The Bohemian Girl

This is what happens when ignorami get poitical.

Patricia B.
Patricia Bucio7 years ago

it´s so sad