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Governor Directs State Law Enforcement to Investigate Hate Crime

November 11, 2008

New York, NY — The investigation of a New York murder as a hate crime is expanding, on orders from the governor.
Gov. David Paterson called the murder of an Ecuadorian man over the weekend a "senseless and cowardly attack." He has ordered state law enforcement agencies to assist Suffolk County in the investigation of the alleged hate crime.

Authorities say 38-year-old Marcello Lucero was attacked and killed near a Long Island train station. Seven teenagers have been charged. The suspects told police they were "looking to hurt some Mexicans."

The U.S Justice Department may intervene, as well. Luis Valenzuela, executive director of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance would like to see federal agents involved.

"There has been a series of attacks; there is an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino sentiment out here. We certainly need some outside perspective to come in and take a look at this."

One of the seven white suspects under arrest is Hispanic. All of them have entered pleas of not guilty. Defense lawyers contend some of the suspects were not on the scene when Lucero was stabbed to death.

Gov. Paterson called for swift justice for the assailants and prayers for the slain Latino's family. Those sentiments were echoed on Long Island by Valenzuela.

"The police are calling it a hate crime. Apparently, the young men told them they were out looking for Latinos to beat up. It's outrageous -- shocking -- to say the least. We certainly feel for the family and for the community who knew Marcello Lucero."

The judge ordered the 17-year-old suspect accused of using the knife during the alleged attack to be held without bail and set bonds for the other six teenagers.

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY