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Charges dropped against 3 of 11 suspects in string of anti-gay crimes

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: One suspect was indicted by a grand jury on charges of gang assault, robbery
  • Eleven suspects were arrested in a string of anti-gay crimes earlier this month
  • Three of the 11 were freed Tuesday due to insufficient evidence
  • With one indicted and three released, the remaining seven await grand jury action
  • LGBT Issues
  • Hate Crimes
  • The Bronx

New York (CNN) -- Three of 11 suspects arrested in a series of anti-gay beatings in New York were released Tuesday due to insufficient evidence, according to the Bronx district attorney's office.

Brian Cepeda, 17; Bryan Almonte, 17; and Steven Carabello, 17, were allowed to walk free after the district attorney's investigation showed that the evidence "didn't meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt" said Steven Reed, director of public information at the Bronx prosecutor's office.

The case involved three victims being held against their will by a group of assailants who beat them in an unoccupied apartment and sodomized two of them, according to police.

A fourth victim was beaten and robbed in connection with the attacks, which authorities described as "torture."

The string of attacks began when members of a street gang calling themselves the Latin King Goonies learned that an aspiring member is gay, authorities said.

The district attorney's office announced Tuesday that one of the suspects, 26-year-old Luis Garcia, was indicted by a grand jury in the attacks. The grand jury brought charges of gang assault and robbery against Garcia, who faces a maximum sentence of 15 years on the gang assault charge and 25 years on the robbery charge, the prosecutor's office said.

All 11 of the suspects live in the Bronx, police said. Pending charges against the remaining seven defendants include unlawful imprisonment, abduction, sodomy, assault, robbery, and menacing, all as hate crimes, according to the New York City police commissioner.

CNN's Kiran Khalid contributed to this report.