A 36-year-old bisexual man was convicted Wednesday of murder as a hate crime in the 2013 killing of a gay man in New York City's Greenwich Village.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office announced Wednesday that Elliot Morales was convicted of murder in the second degree as a hate crime, criminal possession of a weapon, menacing a police officer, and menacing in the second degree. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 11.
Morales taunted 32-year-old Mark Carson and Carson's friend as they were walking down a Greenwich Village street just after midnight in May 2013, prosecutors said. Morales yelled gay slurs at them and said they looked like gay wrestlers, the Associated Press reported.
He then shot Carson in the face, causing fatal brain damage, according to prosecutors.
Morales fled, but he was stopped by a New York police officer not far away. He pointed his .38 Taurus revolver at the officer, who managed to arrest him when he fumbled with the gun, prosecutors said.
At trial, Morales argued that he could not be charged with a hate crime against a gay man because he was himself bisexual, the AP reported. Among his witnesses was a transgender woman with who he had had a sexual relationship.
Morales said he was drunk and afraid when he pulled the gun after arguing with Carson, but he denied using any anti-gay language, the Advocate reported.
A prosecutor said during closing statements that Morales was conflicted about his sexual identity, and he acted out of jealousy and rage.
"Motivated by irrational rage, the defendant targeted and executed a defenseless young man based on his sexual orientation after taunting and insulting the victim and his companion," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement Wednesday.
"Elliot Morales’s hateful and destructive rampage may not have stopped there, if not for the intervention of a brave NYPD officer. When those intent on doing harm have access to guns, any situation can escalate to deadly levels in a matter of seconds, and I thank the jury for their service and recognition of this heinous crime," he said.
Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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