The teen accused of wielding the knife in the fatal hate-crime stabbing of an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue will face an upgraded charge of murder, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
And all seven Patchogue-Medford High School students charged in the death of Marcelo Lucero were indicted Thursday on an additional hate crime charge in connection with an earlier attack that night, authorities said.
Jeffrey Conroy, 17, who police said fatally stabbed Lucero, will be arraigned next week on a charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, authorities said. The charge carries a punishment of 25 years to life.
Conroy, of Medford, still faces his initial charge of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.
The indictment, unsealed Thursday at the other suspects' arraignment before Judge C. Randall Hinrichs in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, charges all seven teens with conspiracy in Lucero's death and second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime in the previous assault.
Facing new charges along with Conroy are: Jordan Dasch, 17, of Medford; Anthony Hartford, 17, of Medford; Nicholas Hausch, 17, of Medford; Christopher Overton, 16, of East Patchogue; Jose Pacheco, 17, of East Patchogue; and Kevin Shea, 17, of Medford.
Prosecutors said the group drove together to Medford, looking for Hispanics to attack, and failing to find them went to downtown Patchogue. They first chased and attacked Hector Sierra but he escaped, authorities said.
Sierra, 55, of Patchogue, has said he was attacked by a group of young men on a Patchogue street on the same night Lucero was fatally stabbed.
"They punched me twice on the side of my head, then they struck me on the back of the head, and I fell in the middle of the street," Sierra said. "They kicked me, and I thought, 'they're going to kill me.'"
"It takes me by surprise, in part, to see that it's really possible" for charges to be brought in connection with his attack, Sierra said Thursday. "I applaud that they've found merit to bring these charges. I hope the full weight of the law is brought to bear on them."
"They took a look at me and thought I was Hispanic" beacuse he was walking home from work at night, he said. But "it could have been any other person-a Jewish person, and Italian person. They never asked me if I was Hispanic."
"It will now be very difficult for me to feel secure on the street. I don't feel the same sense of security as before," said Sierra.
In addition, Hausch and Dasch were each charged with another count of second-degree assault as a hate crime after they attacked Marlon Garcia in front of his home with a BB gun earlier in the day, at about 5 a.m., prosecutors said. Garcia escaped harm.
All of the suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Nov. 8 slaying of Lucero, 37, has caused outrage from Ecuador -- the victim's home country -- to Suffolk County, where County Executive Steve Levy urged "people of goodwill" to denounce intolerance.
All of the defendants were originally charged with gang assault.
Overton is awaiting sentencing in another case. He pleaded guilty to burglary in another fatal attack in May 2007 in which a 38-year-old East Patchogue man was shot dead when a group of teenagers robbed his home. A neighbor found the victim, Carlton Shaw, dead in his backyard, his 3-year-old son sleeping on his chest.
Fernando Mateo, a spokesman for the Lucero family, says Thursday's additional charges mean that the "hunting season" on Hispanics in Suffolk County is over. Mateo sat next to Lucero's brother in court -- and said later the family feels sorry for the defendants and their families: "There are many families here that have been destroyed."
Staff writers Laura Rivera and Kathleen Kerr contributed to this story.
Charge in Hate-Slay Upgraded to Murder
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