"Hate has to stop now." Report from the Conroy Hate Crime Sentencing in Suffolk County | Not in Our Town

"Hate has to stop now." Report from the Conroy Hate Crime Sentencing in Suffolk County

Last week, the Not In Our Town film crew traveled to Suffolk County, NY to continue our coverage of community response to the hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant who was attacked by seven local high school students and stabbed to death by one of them on November 8, 2008. The story of young people roaming the streets of a town looking for "Mexicans" to beat up shocked the nation, and the case has become an alarming manifestation of the increasing animosity toward immigrants in this country.
Our story looks at the effects of the hate crime attacks on Marcelo Lucero and other immigrants in Suffolk County, and on how a diverse group of people in this community are trying to repair the divisions in the aftermath of this crime.

"Hate has to stop now," Joselo Lucero told reporters after the sentencing of Jeffrey Conroy, the 19-year-old convicted of the hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue, NY.  "I want to work with kids so nothing like this happens again," Joselo said. (Joselo's statement below is in English, followed by Spanish.)

Nearly every day of Conroy's trial, Joselo sat in the Suffolk County courtroom. He continues to speak to young people in his community about the importance of acceptance and inclusion. "I don't want someone in the streets hunting down someone because they look different," he said,  "I think the change, it has to start today."  Our two-part video, "Joselo's Journey" documents Joselo's reflections on the Conroy trial and his work to raise awareness about anti-immigrant violence. (Watch "Joselo's Journey Part One" and "Joselo's Journey Part Two.")

"I have listened to everything that happened every day in this courtroom. This is the first time I get to speak," Joselo Lucero said of the deep trauma to his family. He said that he sometimes thought of killing himself in his car to make the pain stop.  Marcelo was his brother, he recalled, but was also like a father, as his own father died when he was six years old.

"I want to express my condolences to the Conroy family. I feel bad for them," Joselo added. "But a crime is a crime."

Marcelo's sister Isabel said she wished that Jeffrey Conroy had been with her and her mother Rosario as they wept at the news of Marcelo's killing.  She admitted that if she were to say she forgave Conroy, "it would be a lie."

Suffolk County's first successful prosecution of a hate crime killing 

Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell, lead prosecutor in the case, discussed the hate-based nature of the crime, and why it deserved enhanced sentencing due to the harm it created in the entire community.  O'Donnell stated that “hate crimes tear at the very fabric of our society."

Read more on the sentencing and community discussion in Joye Brown's Newsday column.

From O'Donnell, the court also learned for the first time about Jeffrey Conroy's previously sealed juvenile record.  There were 24 disciplinary actions against Conroy at Patchogue Medford High School including multiple detentions and suspensions.   

Jeffrey Conroy spoke for himself by saying, "I'm really sorry for what happened to Mr. Lucero. I'm really sorry for the whole situation. I feel really bad for what his whole family is going through right now." 

Defense attorney William Keahon read from what he said were nearly a hundred letters of support for Jeffrey Conroy, including some from local elected officials.  Most of the letters described the Conroy family's efforts to raise funds for local athletics after a budget shortfall in the school district. Jeffrey Conroy was cited for being a support to his father in this endeavor.  Several letters came from Latinos, including Conroy's girlfriend (whose family is Bolivian) who shared that Conroy lacked prejudice and was trying to learn Spanish. His former Cub Scout leader said that Jeffrey Conroy defended her son from bullies. 

At sentencing, State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle noted the racially motivated nature of the attack on Marcelo Lucero, as a group of seven teenagers engaged in actions they called "beaner hopping" or "Mexican jumping." Conroy, convicted of hate crime manslaughter, felonious assault, gang assault and conspiracy, received maximum sentences on those convictions, but they will be served concurrently.  Judge Doyle said that, “the proof of the defendant’s guilt, in my opinion, was overwhelming."  Five other assailants in the attack on Marcelo Lucero have now pled guilty. The last assiailant is expected to plead guilty on June 2.  Conroy, who confessed to stabbing Lucero but later recanted, was the only attacker charged with murder.

Conroy's father Robert Conroy reacted angrily to the judge's maximum sentence, yelling, "He was ----ing seventeen. This is mercy, for crying out loud?" After pounding on the door of the courtroom, Conroy's father was ushered out by court officers.  Jeffrey Conroy’s siblings were weeping as they followed after their father.

Judge Robert Doyle summed up the trial by saying that Jeffrey Conroy was convicted of “senseless and brutal crimes." He added that, “in this case, there are no winners.”

Was the sentence of 25 years in prison a fair one? Does the fact that Jeffrey Conroy was seventeen years old when the crime was committed influence your views? Does the fact that the attack was a hate crime make a difference?


"Justice always prevail"- I hold on to this line everytime I hear any crime or murder news. The  25-years of sentence is not enough to pay the brutal killing of the lives of others, but still I respect the decision of the court. I hope this successful prosecution will serve as a threat for those criminals not to do crimes anymore. We are given the gift of freedom so let's not abuse it. Freedom has it's limitations and for once you have proven to be guilty for any crime, that freedom will be taken away from you.



It mentions above about a version of Jose's statement in Spanish. Where can it be found? Thank you.

Hace menciona arriba, de una versión de la decclaración de Joselo en Español. ¿Donde se encuentra? Gracias.

Hello Miguel,

Thanks for writing to us! Joselo's statement in Spanish begins at about 1 minute 15 seconds in the YouTube video above.

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