NEW YORK (CBS 2/ 1010 WINS/ AP) – The prosecution says it’s ready to present grand jury evidence against the 10 suspects accused of anti-gay attacks on four men in New York City.
Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb spoke Thursday as the defendants appeared, one by one, in a courtroom packed with their friends and relatives.
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Their lawyers say the defendants are innocent. They’ve reserved the right to have their clients testify.
The various charges include assault, sexual abuse and harassment, all as hate crimes.
While most of the accused have made no decision on whether to testify, the lawyer for Ruddy Vargas-Perez said his client plans to tell his side of the story.
“We certainly don’t expect that Ruddy will be indicted for anything because he’s completely innocent,” attorney Benjamin Heinrich said. “He is only mentioned in one complaint which he denies and it’s not an incident of violence.”
Vargas-Perez is out on bail and was surrounded by nearly a dozen relatives at the court appearance. Family for the other defendants filled seven rows of the courtroom.
City officials say it’s the worst case of anti-gay violence in recent memory.
Members of a street gang who called themselves the Latin King Goonies targeted a 30-year-old gay man after he apparently had a sexual encounter with one of their recruits, authorities said.
The 17-year-old was beaten and sodomized with the handle of a plunger until he confessed to his involvement with the older man, authorities said. The mob later went after the 30-year-old, luring him to an abandoned apartment they used for partying, where they tied him to a chair and assaulted him, police said.
Another 17-year-old was also attacked because it was believed he too had an encounter with the man, and the older man’s brother was also attacked after gang members went to their shared apartment and robbed the place of cash and a TV, police said.
Initially, authorities said nine people participated in the attacks, but later concluded there were 10.
The tenth suspect, 22-year-old Jose Dominguez surrendered to detectives Tuesday.
Police say Dominguez has been accused of hitting the first victim with a pipe. No one else is being sought, but it’s possible more suspects could surface during the continued investigation, police said.
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