Long Island Hate-Slay Trial Begins

"They were looking for blood, Mexican blood."

Joselo Lucero said he came to court to listen, not speak.

And so he sat inside Suffolk criminal court in Riverhead and endured a prosecutor's account of the night his brother, Marcelo, was killed in November, 2008.

"The hunt was on that night," said Suffolk assistant district attorney Megan O'Donnell. "They were looking for blood, Mexican blood."

Jeffrey Conroy, now 19, is charged with stabbing Lucero, 37 of Ecuador, to death. 

Conroy's murder trial began Thursday with opening statements.

The teen is one of seven young men accused in the attack.  Four have already pleaded guilty to gang assault and are awaiting sentencing.  Some may testify against Conroy.

"They made a sport of attacking Latino people," O'Donnell told the jury. "They called it Mexican hopping."

Conroy sat quietly in court, with his father a few rows behind him.

The teen was a three sport athlete at Patchogue-Medford high school, a "good kid who was no racist," according to neighbor Tom Kraft, who watched the proceedings.

However, Conroy had made statements about white supremacy and white power, said prosecutors and admitted to police he stabbed Lucero. He was carrying the murder weapon as a "trophy" when arrested, prosecutors added.

Conroy's lawyer William Keahon offered no explanation of what happened the night Lucero was killed; however, he insisted his client was not guilty and urged jurors to keep "open minds."

Prosecutors did acknowledge for the first time that Marcelo Lucero had smoked marijuana the night he died and had used cocaine prior to that.

"They will try to destroy his character," Lucero family spokesman Fernando Mateo said. "But nothing Marcelo did gave anyone the right to kill him."

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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