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Closing arguments begin in Long Island hate crime trial

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jeffrey Conroy, 19, charged with murder as a hate crime in Ecuador native's death
  • Marcello Lucero, 37, died after being stabbed in the chest November 8, 2008
  • Prosecutors believe Conroy and six friends targeted Latinos for assault in 2008
  • Four of the defendants have already pleaded guilty to various charges
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New York (CNN) -- Closing arguments are under way in the trial of a Long Island man charged with murder as a hate crime in the death of a Latin American immigrant.

Jeffrey Conroy, 19, is on trial for the death of Marcello Lucero, a 37-year-old native of Ecuador. Lucero died after being stabbed in the chest November 8, 2008. Conroy is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime, gang assault and conspiracy. He also faces three attempted-assault charges in incidents not related to Lucero's death.

Prosecutors in Suffolk County believe Conroy and six friends targeted Latinos in 2008, as part of a sport they called "beaner hopping," a derogatory term for assaulting Latinos.

Four of the defendants have already pleaded guilty to various charges.

Conroy faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the second-degree murder charge.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps tabs on hate groups, recently released a report that found Latinos in Suffolk County, on the north shore of Long Island, live with intolerance and violence directed at them.

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