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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Shenandoah Teens Convicted of Federal Hate Crime

October 26, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

A federal jury recently convicted Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak of hate crimes charges stemming from the July 2008 fatal beating of Luiz Ramirez, a 25-year-old Mexican immigrant.

According to reports, Piekarsky and Donchak attacked Ramirez, repeatedly punching him, knocking him to the ground, and then kicking him several times in the head. Ramirez died of his injuries two days later. 

Despite the fact that the police said that the teenagers used ethnic slurs while attacking Ramirez, an all-white jury in Pennsylvania acquitted the teens of the most serious charges, including aggravated assault, third degree murder and ethnic intimidation (which is the state hate crime law), in May 2009.

The Department of Justice filed federal charges against the teens in December 2009.  The federal jury found that Ramirez's death was a result of the beating. Piekarsky and Donchak face a lifetime in prison. Senior District Judge A. Richard Caputo will hand down the defendants' sentences in January 2011.

"Hate crimes of this nature have no place in this country, and today's verdict demonstrates that violence committed because of a victim's race, national origin, or ethnicity will not be tolerated," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

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