updated 7/18/2006 12:14:27 AM ET 2006-07-18T04:14:27

A white man accused of pummeling a black man with a baseball bat was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday in a hate-crime case that focused on the defendant’s use of a racial slur.

Nicholas Minucci, 20, was convicted last month of second-degree assault as a hate crime for the 2005 beating in the Howard Beach neighborhood — the site of another notorious attack that stoked racial tensions in New York two decades earlier.

The victim, 23-year-old Glenn Moore, suffered a fractured skull, and one witness testified that the clang of the bat against his head “sounded like Barry Bonds hit a home run.” Moore admitted he and two friends were in the neighborhood trying to steal a car but said they hadn’t taken anything when they crossed paths with Minucci.

In court, he told Minucci: “You have never taken full responsibility for your actions. That is the least you could do. I just hope one day you can take full responsibility for your actions and learn from them.”

Minucci apologized to Moore’s mother for any pain he might have caused her but denied that it was a hate crime.

“I accept responsibility for my actions 100 percent,” Minucci said. “This had nothing to do with race. This had to do with me going to defend a friend. This was a hate crime because of Howard Beach.”

The judge rebutted allegations the case received attention because it occurred in Howard Beach. He also said Minucci “lacks judgment, he’s brutal and vindictive.”

The beating was a vivid reminder of another notorious incident in Howard Beach that inflamed racial tensions in New York 20 years ago. In that case, a black man was killed by a car while trying to escape a group of white attackers after his car broke down.

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