WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - Two Pennsylvania men who were convicted of a federal hate crime for beating and kicking an illegal Mexican immigrant who died of his injuries were sentenced Wednesday to nine years in prison.
Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky were among a group of white high school football players in the small town of Shenandoah who attacked 25-year-old Luis Ramirez in 2008. Prosecutors alleged they beat and kicked Ramirez because they didn't like Hispanics and wanted them out of their town.
Justice Department prosecutor Myesha Braden said in court Wednesday that while Piekarsky, now 19, and Donchak, now 21, did not intend to kill Ramirez, they decided his ethnicity made him "somehow worthy of being beaten like a dog in the streets."
Defense attorneys said they will appeal the verdicts and sentences.
The pair were convicted in October. They could have received more than 12 years to more than 15 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo granted them a reduction because of their personal character and conduct before Ramirez's beating, as well as the numerous letters and testimonials he received.
He also noted Ramirez's death and the crimes of Piekarsky and Donchak.
"The jury found that Mr. Ramirez died as a result of his ethnicity or race. This is serious business in America," said Caputo, adding: "There are no winners here, only losers."
Piekarsky, in a statement to the court, expressed remorse for what happened and offered his condolences to Ramirez's family but said "it was not racial. I am not a racist."
Donchak chose not to make a statement to the court.
Witnesses at their trial gave conflicting accounts of the late-night brawl that pitted Ramirez - a short, stout man nicknamed "Caballo," Spanish for horse - against drunken teenagers during a random encounter on the street.
Answer by stacymomof2 at 9:32 PM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by autodidact at 12:47 PM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by TARARENEE at 11:56 AM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by TARARENEE at 11:48 AM on Feb. 24, 2011
It's not a question of whether or not they are AS human as citizens, but whether they are AMERICAN citizens!! The "undocumented" are ILLEGAL...they are ALREADY criminals!! I don't think very highly of CRIMINALS...but whatever floats your boat!! LOL :o)
Whether or not the victim was illegal is irrelevant. Fact is, these boys murdered another human being, and they deserve to be punished accordingly.....which they're not.
Answer by DusterMommy at 8:36 PM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by TARARENEE at 11:40 AM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by TARARENEE at 12:02 PM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by yourspecialkid at 12:18 PM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by Carpy at 12:35 PM on Feb. 24, 2011
Answer by TARARENEE at 1:54 PM on Feb. 24, 2011