A man accused of making anti-gay remarks to another man before allegedly shooting him in the head in Greenwich Village last month has pleaded not guilty to murder as a hate crime.
Elliot Morales, 33, is also charged with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office. He appeared in court Tuesday.
The shooting of 32-year-old Mark Carson on May 17, which came after several other high-profile anti-gay attacks, fueled simmering outrage in the gay community and led to a march through the Village days later.
Police used facial recognition software to identify Morales as the alleged shooter after he refused to identify himself or be fingerprinted, and was found in possession of a fake ID card, authorities said.
Morales' attorney said his client's rights would not be "trampled."
Shortly before the shooting, police say Morales had run into Carson and a friend near a 99 Cent Pizza and allegedly hurled anti-gay slurs at them. Morales had been with two other men at the time, and they allegedly asked if Carson was a "gay wrestler."
Carson made some remarks in response to the suspect's taunts and walked away, law enforcement sources said.
When Morales ran into the victim and his friend again later, he was alone. Words were exchanged for a second time, and the the suspect allegedly pulled out a .38-caliber revolver and shot Carson in the head, killing him, police said.
The suspect ran off, but was arrested later by a police officer on foot patrol who recognized him based on a description authorities put out after the shooting.
Before the shooting, police say the suspect had a separate confrontation with a manager and bouncer at the West Village restaurant Annisa on Barrow Street. Both men told detectives the suspect made anti-gay comments and threatened them.