4 teens sentenced in LI hate crime stabbing

Marcelo Lucero

August 25, 2010 3:00:41 PM PDT
Three teenagers who admitted targeting Hispanics for violence were sentenced Wednesday to seven-year prison terms for their roles in the 2008 killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant, and a fourth teen who had met the others on the night of the killing received a six-year sentence.

Anthony Hartford's mother hid her face after the sentencing.

The suspects' relatives had no comment as they rushed out of court.

The victim's brother, Joselo Lucero, has always shown grace under pressure, but today he went one step further.

He said he wanted the best for his brother's attackers, because for Marcelo Lucero it is too late.

Perhaps his words had an impact on the judge who considered that along with the individual involvement of each teen showing them mercy.

Anthony Hartford, Jordan Dach, and Jose Pacheco were all sentenced to a maximum of 7 years.

18-year-old Christopher Overton was given a max of 6 years.

Back in November of 2008, the teens and 3 others went out looking for Mexicans to beat up, but it was then 17-year-old Jeff Conroy who plunged the knife into Marcelo Lucero's chest.

Defense attorneys downplayed the racist nature of the crime.

But advocates of the Hispanic community say people need to remember what this case is all about.

All 4 teens will likely serve about 4 more years in jail.

Two more teens will be sentenced in the coming months.

The killing focused the national debate over immigration on New York's Suffolk County and prompted an ongoing U.S. Justice Department probe of how the police on Long Island respond to hate crimes.

Lucero, 37, was walking with a friend when the teenagers confronted them. Prosecutors say the teens were walking around town looking for targets, began yelling ethnic slurs and approached Lucero and a friend. One of the teens punched Lucero in the face.

Lucero and his friend swung their belts in self-defense and began to chase the teens.

Prosecutors say many Hispanics attacked in the days before Lucero's killing were afraid to report the crimes to police, fearing questions about their immigration statuses. The teenagers were aware of that trepidation and took advantage of their victims' fears by operating with impunity, prosecutors said.

During the midnight confrontation, Lucero hit Conroy in the head with a belt and the teen lost his temper, opened a folding knife and lunged at Lucero's chest. The teens fled after the stabbing but were arrested within minutes, just blocks from where the stabbing took place.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)