hate crime

Man, 51, Indicted on Murder-Hate Crime Charge in Deadly Labor Day Bench Stabbing

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A 51-year-old Queens man has been indicted on murder as a hate crime and other charges for allegedly stabbing a 20-year-old Brooklyn man to death on Labor Day, prosecutors said Thursday.

James Williams, of Far Rockaway, is accused of using a homophobic slur before plunging a knife into the victim’s chest. He and victim Massiah Berkley were sitting on the same bench on a path off Beach 20th Street in Far Rockaway that Monday afternoon when Williams allegedly uttered the slur. A confrontation ensued and Berkley was stabbed in the chest as well as the back of the head.

Cops responding to reports of a fight just before 4 p.m. found Berkley lying face up and bleeding. He was taken to a hospital, where he died from his injuries. Williams was taken into custody near the scene a short time after the attack.

"The defendant’s own words allegedly reveal that his bigoted perceptions sparked this deadly attack," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. "Violence is never an acceptable option, but violence spurred by hate and prejudice is uniquely abhorrent and will always be prosecuted by this office to the fullest extent of the law."

Williams is scheduled to be arraigned next week and faces up to life in prison if convicted. He is being represented by Queens Defenders, which declined comment.

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