The State TrialLuis Ramirez Killers Found Not Guilty After Beating Mexican Immigrant To Death
MICHAEL RUBINKAM | 05/ 2/09 07:21 PM |
The case exposed ethnic tensions in Shenandoah, a blue-collar town of 5,000 that has lured Hispanic residents drawn by cheap housing and jobs in nearby factories and farm fields.
Ramirez moved to the town about seven years ago from Iramuco, Mexico, working in a factory and picking strawberries and cherries.The 2000 U.S. Census showed that Schuylkill County's population was 96.6 percent white, with 1.1 percent of the county listed as Hispanic or Latino.
The fight began late July 12 when a half-dozen teens, all Shenandoah residents who played football at Shenandoah Valley High School, were walking home from a block party and came across Ramirez and his 15-year-old girlfriend in a park.
Brian Scully, 18, asked the girl, "Isn't it a little late for you to be out?" That enraged Ramirez, who began yelling in Spanish and dialing friends on his cell phone. Scully admitted shouting ethnic slurs. The verbal sparring soon turned into a physical altercation as Ramirez and Piekarsky traded blows, though prosecutors and defense attorneys disputed who threw the first punch.
Donchak then entered the fray and wound up on top of Ramirez. Prosecutors said he pummeled Ramirez, holding a small piece of metal in his fist to give his punches more power. Defense attorneys said Donchak tried to break up the fight between Piekarsky and Ramirez and denied he had a weapon.
The two sides eventually went their separate ways. But Scully kept yelling at Ramirez, leading the immigrant to charge after the group.
Colin Walsh, 17, then hit Ramirez, knocking him out.
Fanelli accused prosecutors of ignoring exculpatory evidence, including statements by two of Ramirez's friends shortly after the fight that the kicker wore white sneakers _ the color Scully was wearing.
"Does Mr. Ramirez fit the description of an innocent soul who just happened to get picked on by a group of kids?" Piekarsky defense attorney Fred Fanelli asked jurors in closing arguments. "He's the only adult, and he makes some bad choices."
Fanelli also said prosecutors offered leniency to key witnesses _ including Scully and Walsh, who admitted knocking Ramirez unconscious with a punch to the face _ giving them a strong motive to lie.
Walsh pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Ramirez's civil rights and could be out of prison in four years. On the witness stand, he identified Piekarsky as the kicker. So did Scully, who told jurors he tried to kick the immigrant but missed. Scully is charged in juvenile court with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.
Prosecutors called the beating death of an illegal immigrant from Mexico a hate crime, and they urged an all-white jury in Pennsylvania coal country to punish two white teenagers for their roles in the attack.
Instead, the jury found the teens not guilty of all serious charges, a decision that elicited cheers and claps from the defendants' families and friends _ and cries of outrage from the victim's.
Brandon Piekarsky, 17, was acquitted of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, while Derrick Donchak, 19, was acquitted of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Both were convicted of simple assault late Friday following a trial in which jurors were left to sort out the facts of an epithet-filled brawl that pitted popular football players against a 25-year-old Hispanic man, Luis Ramirez, who appeared willing to fight.
A representative of Ramirez's family said the jurors got it wrong.
"Suppressed" witness to Shenandoah
Prosecutors had cast Ramirez as the victim of a gang of drunken white teens motivated by a dislike of their small coal town's growing Hispanic population. They said he was killed by a kick to the head from Piekarsky after he'd been knocked unconscious by another teen.
The jury evidently sided with defense attorneys, who called Ramirez the aggressor and characterized the brawl as a street fight that ended tragically.
Jury foreman Eric Macklin said he sympathized with Ramirez's loved ones but that the evidence pointed to an acquittal.
hate murder of Luis Ramirez speaks out
http://www.aztlan.net/eileen_burke_interview.htmThe Federal Trial
It now appears that the police, the district attorney and the judge were all complicit in the sham trial in which two racist hoodlums were cleared of all serious charges by an all White jury in the brutal racially motivated killing of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez.
The video below shows an interview of one of the most important witnesses to the racially motivated killing which the prosecution, by design, failed to call to the Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania trial. The witness is former Philadelphia police officer Eileen Burke who witnessed and heard the killers yelling racial epithets at Luis Ramirez while beating and kicking him to death.
Eileen Burke also makes some incriminating statements concerning Shenandoah cop Jason Hayes who according to court testimony is the "lover" of bar maid Tammy Piekarsky. Tammy Piekarsky is the mother of killer Brandon Piekarsky whose deed the all White jury decided was only a "simple misdemeanor."
The background to the federal trial is this:
After Ramirez was killed in 2008, the investigation into his death was initially placed in the hands of a police officer who had a sexual relationship with the mother of the accused killer. Police misconduct was so bad that several cops involved in the investigation have themselves been arrested by the federal authorities. Roughly half of the Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, police department now face federal felony charges.
Following the killing, local residents held large and boisterous rallies supporting the accused killers and demanding the deportation of the local Latino minority. After the acquittal, local groups organized a victory celebration, which was only canceled when the Philadelphia media learned that the keynote speaker was a well-known white supremacist who worked with the man now known as the Holocaust Museum Shooter.
According to the Associated Press:
After the verdict, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recommending the Justice Department pursue civil rights charges.
The evidence suggests that Mr. Ramirez was targeted, beaten and killed because he was Mexican, Rendell wrote. Such lawlessness and violence hurts not only the victim of the attack, but also our towns and communities that are torn apart by such bigotry and intolerance.
Violence motivated by bigotry and hate has no place in America, and yet it remains all too prevalent in many of our communities, said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in the Justice Department statement announcing their indictment last year.
Finally, the truth is coming out about the KICK IN THE HEAD MURDER of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA. The Federal Hate Crime Trial IS ON!!! Eileen Burke, the eye witness of the murder who WAS NOT allowed to testify at the extremely BIASED Shenandoah Trial previously, was FINALLY allowed to testify! Her testimony is REVEALING! Finally, Finally the TRUTH is coming out!!
[T]he tape of the 911 call made by Elaine Burke, Shenandoah, a retired Philadelphia police officer. "It doesn't look like he is conscious," Burke said on the tape. "It was a fight." Previously, Burke testified that Piekarsky had made a threat to Ariel Garcia, a friend of Ramirez who was crouching next to his motionless form. '"You tell your Mexican friends to get ... out of Shenandoah or you're going to be ... lying next to him'," was what Piekarsky said, Burke testified.
A second person, who was with the Shenandoah-area men testified Thursday that one of the defendants delivered a fatal kick. Brian Scully, of Shenandoah, said he had kicked Ramirez in the shoulder, but that Piekarsky was more accurate. "I regained my balance and I saw Brandon kick him. (Ramirez) started shaking," he testified. Scully, who was tried as a juvenile in Schuylkill County Court, said he has no deal with federal authorities concerning possible charges from the incident
In her summation to the all-white jury, Justice Department prosecutor Myesha Braden said Wednesday that Donchak, 20, and Piekarsky, 18, were motivated by their dislike of Shenandoah's growing Latino population when they beat and kicked Luis Ramirez during a random late-night encounter in a park.
Afterward, she said, the young men joked about what they had done and plotted to lie to the police.
"They showed no remorse that night no sense of responsibility for having beaten a man to the point of death," Braden said.
The defendants, along with two of their friends who have already pleaded guilty, acted as a team, she said.
"As a team they issued racial threats and slurs. They told him as a team to go back to Mexico. And they beat him as a team. The defendants are responsible together for what happened to Luis Ramirez."
Donchak and Piekarsky were charged in federal court with violating Ramirez's civil rights after an all-white jury in Schuylkill County cleared them of most of the serious state charges last year.
Prosecutors allege that Piekarsky delivered a fatal kick to Ramirez's head after he'd been knocked unconscious by another teen, Colin Walsh, who pleaded guilty in federal court and testified against his former friends.
Donchak took part in the fight and then conspired with Shenandoah police to cover up the crime, federal prosecutors say. The accused officers are scheduled to go on trial early next year.
Both defendants are charged under criminal provisions of the Fair Housing Act, while Donchak faces additional counts related to the cover-up. The hate crime charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
As they have all along, defense attorneys insisted Wednesday that the fight stemmed from youthful aggression - not ethnic hatred.
"Brandon Piekarsky is not, nor has he ever been, a racist," said James Swetz, Piekarsky's attorney.
He ridiculed the government's theory that Donchak and Piekarsky intended to deprive Ramirez of his federally protected housing rights, saying they didn't even know that Ramirez lived in Shenandoah.
The brawlers that night were "too filled with street pride, easily inclined toward crass language, too quick to anger," said Donchak's attorney, William Fetterhoff. They lacked "maturity, judgment, prudence and self-restraint - Luis Ramirez included."