Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Form Of Justice


I first wrote about his story HERE and now there's another bit to add.

Last December 7, Keith Phoenix and Hakim Scott attacked two brothers, Jose and Romel Sucuzhañay with bats and bottles, as the two brothers walked home from a Brooklyn bar. Jose died from his beating; his brother Romel survived.

This past Tuesday Phoenix and Scott were charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault, all as hate crimes, and face 78 years to life in prison if convicted. Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, said that if the men are convicted, his office would push for the sentences to run consecutively.

Keith Phoenix has claimed that he acted in self-defense because he thought Sucuzhañay was reaching for a weapon in his waistband, but Hynes has said, “The only weapon was wielded by Mr. Phoenix and Mr. Scott.”

Hynes also says that Phoenix and Scott have given full confessions to the attack and said that the beating started because Phoenix and Scott saw Romel wrap a coat around his brother to shield him from the cold.

Reports and witnesses say that racial and anti-gay slurs were shouted at the brothers from a passing car. Then Hakim Scott jumped out of the car and attacked the two men with a beer bottle. The brothers tried to escape, but Scott caught up with Jose and smashed the bottle into his head. Romel was able to flee.

Phoenix then got out of the SUV armed with a baseball bat which he used to beat Jose Sucuzhañay. When Phoenix decided he'd had enough fun, he walked back to his car, but when he saw that Sucuzhañay was still moving, Phoenix immediately went back to him and, again using the baseball bat, smashed Jose a few more times in the head until his victim was motionless.

Is seventy-eight years enough?

It will be if the two are convicted.

It will be if the DA can get the sentences to run consecutively, which he hopes to do.

Then Phoenix and Scott, both in their mid-twenties, can stay locked up until they are well past the age of beer bottles and baseball bat rampages.

If they stay locked up that long, no hope of parole, no glory from hate-mongers for their crimes, then justice will be done.

I am not a proponent of the death penalty in any case. Any case. With all the appeals afforded on inmates on death row, the cost to the state is outrageous. I believe in locking people like Phoenix and Scott up until the day they die.

At the sentencing portion of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson's trial, for the murder of Matthew Shepard, A statement written by Matthew's father, Dennis Shepard, told McKinney and Henderson what the sentence meant:

You won’t be a symbol.
No years of publicity, no chance of commutation, no nothing
—just a miserable future and a miserable end.
It works for me….
I give you life in the memory of one who no longer lives.
May you have a long life, and may you thank Matthew every day for it.

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