Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pa. teens charged in fatal beating of immigrant

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 25, 7:49 PM ET

PORT CARBON, Pa. - Three white teens were charged Friday in what officials said was an epithet-filled fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant in a small northeast Pennsylvania coal town. Brandon J. Piekarsky, 16, and Colin J. Walsh, 17, were charged as adults with homicide and ethnic intimidation in the July 12 attack on Luis Ramirez.

A third teen, Derrick M. Donchak, 18, was charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. All are from Shenandoah, where the attack occurred.

Additional charges are expected in the case that has roiled Shenandoah, a small, economically depressed town where police have reported friction between whites and a growing Hispanic population.

The suspects played football at Shenandoah Valley High School; Donchak, now enrolled at Bloomsburg University, was the quarterback last season.

"As a result of this crime, a young man has lost his life. Many other lives have been devastated, and the borough of Shenandoah has been filled with tensions between many ethnic groups," Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman said.

"Now that the criminal charges have been filed, we must let this case be handled in the criminal justice system," he said.

According to a police affidavit, the defendants and three 17-year-olds encountered Ramirez, 25, and a teenage girl in a park the night of July 12.

The youths goaded Ramirez and the girl, saying, "You should get out of this neighborhood" and "Get your Mexican boyfriend out of here," documents said. After Ramirez and the girl began walking away, someone yelled an ethnic slur at him, court documents said. He responded, "What's your problem?"

A fight ensued, during which police said Walsh punched Ramirez in the face. The victim fell and hit his head on the street, leaving him unconscious, after which Piekarsky kicked him in the head, police said.

All three suspects used ethnic slurs during the fight, which ended with Ramirez in convulsions and foaming at the mouth, authorities said. The attackers fled the scene; Ramirez underwent surgery but died July 14 of head injuries.

Piekarsky and Walsh were being held without bail, while Donchak was held on $75,000 bail.

Lawyers for Piekarsky and Walsh said their clients are not guilty and that there was no evidence to support the homicide charges. They also said they would try to have the case removed to juvenile court.

Roger Laguna, Walsh's lawyer, said the police affidavit "pretty much describes chaos, and what you have then after the fact is somebody trying to sort through that and attribute certain acts to certain individuals."

He said that although slurs might have been used, the fight was not motivated by ethnicity.

"I think any time there's a fight and any time you have one ethnic group fighting another, there's going to be racial slurs," he said. "I've seen that since I was a kid on a playground 20 years ago, but they never called it ethnic intimidation until very recently."

Frederick Fanelli, Piekarsky's lawyer, said he is "surprised and disappointed" that his client faces a homicide charge, attributing Ramirez's death to a "street fight that ended tragically."

Donchak declined to comment.

Ramirez, who entered the U.S. illegally about six years ago, worked in a factory and picked strawberries and cherries.

Crystal Dillman, the victim's 24-year-old fiancee, who is white and grew up in Shenandoah, has said Ramirez was often called derogatory names and told to return to his homeland. The couple had two children together, and Dillman also has a 3-year-old who thought of Ramirez as her father.

"I plan on moving out of this town as fast as I can. Not because I'm scared. I just don't want to see my children have to deal with what their father dealt with," Dillman said.

Preliminary hearings for all three suspects were set for Aug. 4.

Goodman said a fourth teen will be charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation and that charges also will be filed against a man who provided alcohol to the defendants hours before the attack.

Source: Yahoo


Anonymous said...

Three (more, actually) white, likely Christian, football playing, drunken, bigoted all-American high school teenaged boys beat one lone Mexican man to death. Well, I guess they showed him, huh? And they showed us, too. They showed us how the adults in that community taught their kids to be bigots and drink to excess. They showed us how their great, mostly Christian training has kept their morals at such high standards. They showed us the importance of team sports in teaching their kids about fair play and functioning as a team. What a won! And they showed us how a society that encourages, praises and constantly demonstrates violence showed them how to do it. Way to go, Shenandoah! Way to go, America! Now, let's just go out there and show the rest of the world how to live right -- the all-American, Christian way. Don't it just make you proud to be an American?

Holly said...

I just left a skin-peeling comment on a conservative blog. Why? Because, in response to this news story, not ONE of them indicated the slightest compassion for the fact that a human LIFE had been taken. Not one.

All they talked about was immigration reform and how to get the illegals out of America.

Meanwhile, there's a DEAD man, about whom none of them gave two puffs of comet gas. Why should they? He was ONLY a "dirty Mexican."

We REALLY have to start cracking down on bigotry in America. And if that means cracking down on churches that foment it, so be it.

Religion has become vile and callous in America, thanks to the TV preachers who turned people to a "revised" Christianity that isn't remotely Christian.

I was raised in Christianity. It was always an important value to feel compassion for people's pain, suffering or death. Today it isn't. It's only important to have it for the "people who matter." Which, obviously, excludes anyone of color or of Mexican descent.

I live in Mexico - have, for 14 years. I don't like lumping whole populations into one category, but on the AVERAGE, I've found the average Mexican far more tolerant and kindly than our own average people are. The generosity of spirit I've encountered here has often astonished me. Like pharmacies and supermarkets that deliver - and some even allow credit to people who are poor, or temporarily out of cash.

I love living in Mexico. And, as you can see, there are good reasons for it. This is a wonderful country, and most of her people are beautiful and good. Even poor people here are often very generous.

Could any of you in the States name one such enterprise that would do either of those things? Ever?

Not once, in 14 years, has my cleaning lady taken a single peso from me, despite being VERY poor with a large family. She's one of the most thoroughly GOOD people I've ever known. I need a "domicilia" because I am severely disabled. I don't know what I'd do without her, and there's almost nothing I wouldn't do to make her life better or easier. On SS Disability, that isn't much, but I do all I can.

We need to get a grip, as a nation, on what REAL morality is. To the bornagain bunch, morality only revolves around sexual matters. Honesty, honor, self-discipline, integrity - these are minor matters, to them. Bush had tortured people, cheated and lied like a rug to us, but since he was against abortion and stem-cell research (sexual stuff) he got re-elected on a MORALITY platform! We can thank the bornagains for the last 4 years of agony under Bush.

Maybe it's time we told them what we think of them and their "cooked up" religion.

They showed us they have political clout. That makes these people extremely dangerous - a literal "enemy within," and, in its own way, every bit as much of a peril as al Qaeda. They are dead set on turning America into a theocracy, and the way they've been going, they may well get their wish.

We can't afford to let them have it.

To rid ourselves of maximum racism, we must rid ourselves of the nefarious - and entirely political - neo-Christian groups. This can't be done by force, but it CAN be done by discrediting them, putting egg on their faces, and making them socially unacceptable.

It's supposedly a "taboo" to talk down about any religion, but there are exceptions - and this neo type Christianity is definitely one of them.

Freedom of religion IS important. But there are no rules of proper behavior FROM religions, and there should be. They presently are accountable to nobody. That should change. While most act responsibly, the fact that ANY of them choose not to tells us that some rules need to be laid down for what religions can and canNOT do.

This new kind of Christanity tends to require a high level of public ignorance in order to take root solidly in an area like Shenandoah. They don't really know much about Christianity at ALL, so they believe what they're told. Especially because these people tell them EVERYTHING the want to hear! Like getting pre-saved. No real Christian believes you can have a "reserved seat in heaven," but these people do.

What they do NOT know is that their own leadership probably doesn't believe anything they are preaching. They preach it to gain wealth and political power - nothing more. And it's working.

Education, therefore, is one of the best tools we have to combat it. We've ignored education in inner cities and rural areas far too long - and now we're paying a horrific price for it.

Education. There's hardly any priority more important if we hope to reduce the dumbed-down segment of our population.

You'll note these boys were NOT charged with a hate crime (which has more severe penalties), even though this attack couldn't have been anything BUT. The community is STILL doing all it can to protect them.

Maybe somebody should tell the people of Shenandoah that most Mexicans ARE Christians. Just not THEIR kind of Christians. Most Mexicans are Catholic. THEIR religion tells them they should not hate anyone because of color or nationality, and beating anyone up (unless in self-defense) is a sin.

This neo-Christianity is leading people down the VERY pathways that are called sin by the REAL Christianity. There are many divisions of it, but most are non-political and do not preach lies about their own faith. Their morals are far more inclusive than those of the bornagain bunch.

Bigotry, like ignorance, serves the bornagains. It's time to mess with their plans.

We've GOT to get SERIOUS about stomping all over our bigots - making their hate very expensive indeed to them.

Anonymous said...

RIP Luis Ramirez and my heart goes out to his family and friends who have lost their beloved son and friend.
Another three stupid white thugs have committed another atrocity because they felt special to be born white... I wonder how special they'll feel about it in prison.