updated 9/18/2006 3:56:26 PM ET 2006-09-18T19:56:26

A homeless man was sentenced Monday to 25 years to life in prison for knifing a woman to death in a mall parking garage because she was white.

“You, Mr. Grant, represent the face of evil,” State Supreme Court Justice Lester Adler told the man, Phillip Grant.

Grant seemed unmoved as the maximum sentence was imposed. As he was led out of the courtroom, the victim’s son, Jonathan Russo, shouted, “Disgusting animal!”

Grant, 44, who is black, was convicted in July of murder as a hate crime in the killing of Concetta Russo-Carriero, a 56-year-old legal secretary. She was stabbed twice in the heart in June 2005 in the parking garage of the Galleria mall in downtown White Plains.

Captured just minutes later, Grant quickly admitted his guilt, led police to a bloody knife and sat for a videotaped confession in which he ranted about a race war, saying of his victim, “As long as she had blond hair and blue eyes, she had to die.”

He added that if he’d had a gun, “There’d be a lot of dead white people on the streets of White Plains.”

Defense attorney Eugene Traynor had meticulously challenged police procedure and the judge’s rulings throughout the trial, claiming that the wrong man had been arrested, that Grant’s rights had been abused and that the confession was invalid.

But the jurors, who watched the videotape twice, took 4½ hours to convict Grant, a convicted rapist who had served his entire sentence, refused mental health treatment and set free.

The case spurred calls for a civil commitment law that could keep violent sex offenders off the streets even after their prison time is served.

Civil commitment bills, including one known as Connie’s Law, are pending before the state Legislature.

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