Man who pleaded guilty to Hell's Kitchen hate crime attack sentenced to 15 years

The victim, Vilma Kari, spoke out for the first time since the 2021 attack

Joe Torres Image
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Man who pleaded guilty to Hell's Kitchen hate crime attack sentenced to 15 years
Joe Torres has the story.

HELL'S KITCHEN, New York City (WABC) -- The victim of a vicious hate crime spoke out for the first time Wednesday as her attacker was sentenced to prison.

Vilma Kari, 68, was viciously and repeatedly assaulted on a Hell's Kitchen sidewalk back in March 2021 by 43-year-old Brandon Elliot.

Elliot was sentenced to 15 years in state prison after pleading guilty in court to first-degree assault as a hate crime and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Kari emerged from the Lower Manhattan courthouse to begin what she called a new chapter in her life.

"I look forward to my complete healing first and foremost," said Kari. "Physically I am OK, but I am still trying to work on my mental and emotional health."

Moments earlier, at Eliot's sentencing, Kari, who is Filipina, delivered a powerful victim impact statement that detailed the horror she faced that day.

Surveillance video showed Elliot kicking Kari in in the torso, knocking her to the ground, before he proceeded to repeatedly kick and stomp on her head and body. He cursed and told her "you don't belong here."

The video also showed two doormen who never stepped in to intervene during the attack, but eventually checked on Kari once the suspect left. The doormen were fired a week later.

Kari's fractured rib has healed and the bruises are gone, but the fear still lingers when she ventures outside.

"There will always be that caution every time," she said. "I really don't know when I will be able to be free again."

A network of supporters rallied around Kari, who arrived in the United States 40 years ago, got married, became an American citizen and gave birth to a loving daughter who not only helped her recover, but started an organization to battle against hate crime against Asian-Americans.

"Mom has been waiting for three years to share the details about what happened and now she can come out and be a little bit more forward facing within the organization," said Liz Kari, Vilma's daughter.

Their effort has caught the attention of the White House.

"She is not alone and her example will show other people, other victims who may not be victims but are living alone in fear and terror, that they are not alone either,' said Deputy Assistant to the President Erika Moritsugu.

ALSO READ | Mother, two children injured in Hell's Kitchen hit and run

No arrests have been made.


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