Slaying Suspect Not Grinning Anymore

A second arrest was made Friday in the hate crime killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant, authorities said.
The arrest was made in suburban Yonkers. New York City police had released a video of the suspect, 28-year-old Keith Phoenix, and had offered a $22,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
In the video, Phoenix is seen grinning as he pays a toll at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge on Dec. 7 at 3:47 a.m., 19 minutes after real estate broker Jose Sucuzhanay and his brother were attacked in Brooklyn.
Phoenix was found hiding out in an apartment of a woman who knew his ex-girlfriend, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
Detectives had been to several locations in New York and Connecticut looking for him, and were told he might be at the Yonkers home.
Police and prosecutors said Sucuzhanay was beaten with a bat and kicked by men shouting anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs as the brothers walked arm-in-arm to keep warm.
“This horrible act appears to have been fueled by a deadly combination of ethnic and homophobic prejudice,'' said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at a news conference on the arrest.
Bloomberg said in Spanish that victims of hate crimes should not fear reporting the incidents. He said he hoped the arrests provided some measure of comfort to Sucuzhanay's family.
The other suspect, Hakim Scott, 25, pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder as a hate crime. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison. Phoenix was arrested on charges of second-degree murder as a hate crime and was expected to be arraigned Monday.
The attack ignited outrage from New York to Ecuador, sparking demonstrations around the city. On Thursday, community members gathered at the spot where Sucuzhanay was beaten, in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Officials said efforts were being made to rename the street after the victim.
Before the street attack, Sucuzhanay, 31, and his brother, Romel, had attended a church party and stopped at a bar.
Police said Phoenix and Scott were sitting in a sport utility vehicle at a red light when they came upon the brothers. The groups “exchanged words.'' Then Scott got out of the SUV, hit Jose Sucuzhanay with a beer bottle and chased Romel Sucuzhanay with it, separating the brothers, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Phoenix grabbed an aluminum baseball bat from the vehicle and “savagely beat Jose about his shoulders, ribs and back until he fell to the pavement,'' Kelly said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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