Mexican Rights Group Wants Justice in Beating Death

Published May 6, 2009

An immigrant-advocacy group says it will ask the Justice Department to file federal charges against two White teens acquitted Friday of beating to death a 25-year-old Mexican man in a small Pennsylvania mining town.

The all-White jury of six men and six women in Shenandoah, Pa., agreed that 19-year-old Derrick Donchak and 17-year-old Brandon Piekarsky were not guilty of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and ethnic intimidation for the death of Luis Ramirez, who had settled into the neighborhood a year earlier with his White wife and young children. Piekarsky was also acquitted of third-degree murder.

Ramirez died last summer from blunt-force injuries, just two days after Donchak and Piekarsky left him writhing in the street and foaming at the mouth. They reportedly yelled racial slurs at him as he lay there.

"The jurors here [are] sending the message that you can brutally beat a person, without regard to their life, and get away with it, continue with your life uninterrupted," Gladys Limon, a spokeswoman for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), told CNN. "In this case, the message is that a person who may not be popular in society based on their national origin or certain characteristic has less value in our society. The acts here were egregious in brutality, and it's just outrageous and very difficult to understand how any juror could have had reasonable doubt, especially as to the aggravated assault and the reckless endangerment charges."

MALDEF will press the Justice Department to file federal charges she said.

"Luis Ramirez's family deserves vindication for his death," she said. "This incident has not only disrupted Luis Ramirez's family, but the entire community."

The racially divisive case had been watched closely nationwide. "In my mind it was the lack of evidence to tie these kids to the serious charges that they brought," defense lawyer Frederick Fanelli told CNN.

Written by BET.com Staff

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