A man accused in the fatal shooting of a gay man, 32-year-old Mark Carson, in New York’s West Village has been indicted in connection to the crime, prosecutors said on May 23.
Suspected killer Elliot Morales, 33, did not appear in Manhattan Criminal Court for notification of the grand jury’s vote.
His attorney, Kevin Michael Canfield, said that Morales is not guilty of the murder and is “devastated by the charges… he didn’t murder anybody.”
“He was sexually abused as a child by a male authority figure which led to a lifetime of alcoholism and drug abuse. It’s a terrible tragedy” Canfield told the New York Daily News.
Morales was arrested around midnight on May 18, for murder in the second degree as a hate crime and related charges.
He allegedly taunted Carson and a friend, “Look at you faggots, you look like gay wrestlers,” before shooting Carson in the head. Police said that he laughed as he confessed to the crime, even looking gleeful when he reported having shot his victim in the face.
Carson’s death was just one of an increasing number of anti-LGBT crimes committed in the area; according to local police, such hate crimes have more than doubled this year so far. However, LGBT organizations point out that not every such assault is recorded as a hate crime, or reported at all.
The New York City Anti-Violence Project reported that anti-gay violence is going up the most in the Bronx and Queens. The group gets its data through collecting legal report from attorneys and the police, as well as by gathering firsthand testimonies. They keep records on both verbal and physical harassment.
“As a lesbian woman who lives in Queens I’ve found myself becoming more and more aware of my surroundings when I’m out in public. I catch myself thinking twice before kissing my partner goodbye on the train late at night; we both live in Astoria, Queens. It’s hard to find the balance between standing up to hate by being out, proud and visible and making sure you and your loved one are safe” New Yorker Victoria Tucci told 429Magazine.