Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fortunato Appeals Conviction

By: Duncan Osborne

Attacking the Brooklyn district attorney’s primary witness and arguing that the prosecutor never proved that their client had the legally required state of mind to convict him, attorneys for Anthony Fortunato, one of Michael Sandy’s killers, have filed an appeal seeking to overturn his 2007 guilty verdict and win a new trial.

“The linchpin of people’s case was the cooperator and credibility challenged, Gary Timmins,” wrote attorneys from Mischel & Horn, a Manhattan law firm that specializes in criminal and civil appeals.

Fortunato, 23, was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. In 2006, he, Timmins, and two other men lured Sandy, a 29-year-old gay man, to a secluded beach where they tried to rob him. Sandy fled onto a nearby highway where he was struck by a car and killed. Fortunato was sentenced to seven-to-21 years and his earliest possible release date is October 2013.

In a plea deal, Timmins, 19, testified for the prosecution in exchange for a four-year sentence. He pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery as a hate crime and attempted first-degree assault. Timmins could be released from prison as soon as March 2010.

The appeal noted Timmins’ history of drug use, theft, and one serious assault saying, “Since the age of eleven or twelve, he has been an active violator of the criminal law.”

In addition to arguing that Timmins was not a credible witness, the appeal said that Jill Konviser, the judge in the trial, gave erroneous instructions to the jury on how to weigh the testimony of a co-defendant turned witness like Timmins.

A central argument in the appeal is that Fortunato never formed the requisite state of mind to be found guilty of manslaughter.

Fortunato, saying he had done so previously, suggested that the group sign on to a gay Internet chat room and lure a gay man to a meeting. Sandy came for a first encounter, but left after seeing all four men. After a second Internet contact, he went back, believing he would meet only John Fox, 22. At that second encounter, Sandy was attacked by Fox and Ilya Shurov, 23.

Continue Story Here.


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