In the latest twist in alleged bias torture attacks against gays in Morris Heights, seven people have been indicted.
The defendants now face a total of more than 60 counts for the alleged bias torture attacks of three gay men by a gang at 1910 Osborne Place on Sunday, October 3.
On Wednesday, October 27, Jose Dominguez, 22, Idelfonso Mendez, 23, and David Rivera, 21, were indicted with 28 counts of gang assault in the first and second degrees. A grand jury also indicted Elmer Confresi, 23, Nelson Falu, 17, and Ruddy Varagas, 22, on Thursday, October 28 for various offenses, including gang assault in the 1st and 2nd degree, robbery, and sexual abuse. Also indicted was Luis Garcia, 26, for one count of gang assault and one count of robbery on Tuesday, October 26. They were charged with hate crimes, which will included an enhanced sentence if they are convicted.
According to complaint reports, the 15 hours of attacks included sodomy with wooden stick until victims admitted they were gay. The attackers are allegedly members of the gang called the Latin King Goonies.
All charges were dismissed against Dennis Piters, 17, Bryan Almonte, 17, Steven Carabello, 17, and Brian Cepeda, 17, because of lack of evidence. The dismissals drew criticism by Dirk McCall, executive director the Bronx Community Pride Center. McCall said that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities fear that the dismissal of charges for lack of sufficient evidence might hamper further prosecution of other hate crimes.
“We fear that this decision will have a chilling effect on prosecuting further hate crimes,” McCall said in a statement, “thereby allowing wrongdoers to evade criminal liability for heinous crimes perpetrated against all protected classes of citizens.”
District Attorney Robert Johnson responded to McCall’s statement, saying that his office is abiding by what state law dictates for criminal prosecutions.
“The easy political response would have been to indict everyone,” Johnson said. “However, our legal mandate is to follow the evidence and the law. After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances in this matter, seven defendants have been indicted on numerous serious felony offenses, including hate crimes. Our focus will be on securing convictions and appropriate punishment of these defendants, and as the case proceeds in court all of the facts will come out. We certainly do not condone, and in fact abhor, the conduct alleged.”
Lewis Goldstein, Bronx Democratic County Committee vice chairman, said that he has faith in D.A. Johnson. He expects a strong and vigorous prosecution.
“I have complete trust in District Attorney Robert Johnson’s decision and judgment,” Goldstein said. “He is the one who sees the evidence and decides if a case exists against any defendant. I have known D.A. Robert Johnson for many years. He deplores all acts of violence, hatred and bullying. If he cannot pursue a particular prosecution, I am sure he has exhausted every option at his disposal to pursue a case.”