A 17-year-old student was ordered held without bail Monday on hate crime charges in the stabbing of an Ecuadorean immigrant during a marauding spree with six high school friends.
A judge rejected Jeffrey Conroy's plea for bail on charges that include second-degree murder as a hate crime, manslaughter and gang assault in the Nov. 8 killing of Marcelo Lucero.
Conroy's lawyer, William Keahon, denied that his client — who is white — is a racist.
"It doesn't exist or these people wouldn't be here to support him," Keahon said, gesturing to relatives, as well as friends of different ethnic backgrounds, in the courtroom.
Prosecutor Megan O'Donnell told state Supreme Court Justice Robert Doyle that Conroy took a knife out of his boxer shorts and handed it over to police shortly after the killing.
Without comment, state Supreme Court Justice Robert Doyle refused to allow Conroy's release on $100,000 bail and ordered him back to jail.
Lucero's death brought a torrent of outrage from Long Island to South America after authorities said he was targeted for being Hispanic.
Authorities have since said that the attack was not isolated and have encouraged other victims, regardless of their immigration status, to report similar assaults.
One of seven charged
Conroy was the only one of the seven teenagers charged with murder because his friends were not aware of the stabbing until after it happened, O'Donnell said. They were arraigned last week, and all pleaded not guilty.
The teens, students at Patchogue-Medford High School, were arrested shortly after the midnight confrontation. A friend of Marcelo's fled and called for help.
Marcelo, who was surrounded by the attackers, swung his belt wildly in self-defense but was killed when Conroy "lunged toward the victim from four or five feet," plunging the eight-inch folding knife once into the victim's chest, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, the teenagers admitted in statements to authorities that they hurled ethnic slurs at Lucero during the assault. The teens also are accused of accosting another Hispanic man about 30 minutes before the fatal stabbing; that victim escaped. And prosecutors say that about 18 hours earlier, two of the teens shot a BB gun at a Hispanic.
Lucero's brother, Joselo, attended the hearing accompanied by representatives from Hispanics Across America. The group's president, Fernando Mateo, announced a Dec. 3 meeting at a church to encourage victims of racial attacks to come forward.