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.
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.
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?