Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pa. teens ordered to trial in immigrant's death

Pa. teens ordered to trial in immigrant's death - Yahoo! News

POTTSVILLE, Pa. - Three teens were ordered Monday to stand trial in the beating death of an illegal immigrant from Mexico after a friend of the defendants testified that the victim was sucker-punched and kicked in the head during a late-night, epithet-filled melee.

Luis Ramirez's death last month has increased racial tensions in the town of Shenandoah, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and yelling from protesters outside the courthouse forced a brief delay of Monday's preliminary hearing.

District Judge Anthony Kilker ruled that prosecutors had enough evidence to try Colin Walsh,
17, and Brandon Piekarsky, 16, on counts of third-degree murder and
ethnic intimidation. He threw out first- and second-degree murder
charges against the pair, which means they no longer face the
possibility of life prison sentences if convicted.

A third defendant, Derrick Donchak, 18, was ordered to stand trial on aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other counts.

Ramirez, 25, was attacked July 12 when he crossed paths with a group
of current and former high school football players. The suspects, all
Shenandoah residents, played football at Shenandoah Valley High School.
Donchak, now enrolled at Bloomsburg University, was the quarterback
last season.

Ben Lawson,
a 17-year-old friend of the defendants, testified Monday that Walsh
sucker-punched Ramirez and Piekarsky, then kicked the victim in the
head while he lay motionless in the street. Defense attorneys
characterized the attack as a street fight in which both sides were throwing punches.

Crystal Dillman, Ramirez's 24-year-old fiancee, sobbed on the
witness stand as she described rushing to the scene and seeing an
unconscious Ramirez "shaking and foaming from the mouth."...

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