Newsday is reporting that Queens Supreme Court Justice Seymour Rotker "rendered mostly not guilty verdicts Monday in the trial of five men accused of attacking a Sikh man in Richmond Hill."
Of the five men on trial, "two defendants were found guilty of second degree assault while three others were found guilty only of aggravated harassment.... All were acquitted of the hate crime charge."
DNSI has closely followed the case, involving the assault of Rajinder Singh Khalsa [pictured], who also goes by the last name of Bammi [previous reports on the trial are available here, here, here, and here]. To recap the evidence and arguments provided in news accounts:
- The incident began when the defendants remarked, in reference to Khalsa's turban, "Look, somebody stole my curtains" and "Why did you steal my sheets from my house?"
- "One of the defendants, Ryan Meehan, yelled, 'Give me my curtain.'"
- Singh told the presiding judge that he asked Meehan, "What do you mean, 'Give me my curtain?'"
- Moments later, another defendant, Terence Lyons, said "You still here?.... Go to your home. Go to your country." To which one of the Sikh men replied, "[T]his is my country. This is my home, too."
- The perpetrators then began assaulting Khalsa, fractured his left eye socket, continued to kick his body while he was unconscious, and left him for dead.
- Khalsa "was so battered that doctors had to drain blood from his eye." He testified that, "You could not see the white part of the eye.... It was all blood." Khalsa claimed that his nose was "completely shattered" as a result of the assault. Moreover, Khalsa "was forced to sleep sitting up until undergoing corrective surgery about a month later."
- The defense argued that "the Sikh men were solely responsible for escalating the situation into a near melee." The defense also contended that their clients had no hateful intent during the incident.
- Further, the defense argued that "the charges... are borne out of racial prejudice against him.... The charges against Mr. Cosentino were motivated solely by Mr. Bammi's prejudice against Italians...." [The five men who stood trial are of Italian descent.]
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