Nicholas Hausch, one of Jeffrey Conroy's codefendants in the hate crime trial in the death of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero, arrives at the Arthur Cromarty Court Complex in Riverhead, N.Y., on Monday, March 29, 2010.
Updated: Monday, 29 Mar 2010, 4:22 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 29 Mar 2010, 4:20 PM EDT
RIVERHEAD, NY (AP) - Moments after an Ecuadorean immigrant was stabbed to death during a confrontation with a group of Long Island teenagers, the youth suspected of inflicting the fatal blow admitted he had a knife and was responsible for the stabbing, one of his friends testified Monday.
Nicholas Hausch, 18, who has pleaded guilty to gang assault, conspiracy and other crimes, appeared Monday as a prosecution witness in the trial of Jeffrey Conroy.
Prosecutors say Conroy was one of seven teens, including Hausch, who surrounded and killed Marcelo Lucero on a Patchogue street in November 2008. Conroy, who has pleaded not guilty, is the only one charged with murder and manslaughter as a hate crime; prosecutors say he is the one who actually stabbed Lucero.
The case has focused attention on the animosity between the largely white population that settled on Long Island after World War II and a growing influx of Hispanics, many from Central and South America suspected of illegally entering the United States. Prosecutors contend Lucero's death was the culmination of a campaign of violence that targeted Hispanic immigrants.
Lucero, 37, was walking with a friend near the Patchogue train station around midnight when they were confronted by the teenagers, who prosecutors say were strolling around town looking for targets.
Hausch, who faces between 5 to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced after Conroy's trial, testified that Conroy had confided in him moments after Lucero was stabbed that he was responsible. "He was walking past me and he said: 'We gotta go.' He said he stabbed him," Hausch testified.
Hausch said he and the others implored Conroy to ditch the knife, but Conroy told them he had washed it off in a puddle, assuring them it had been cleaned. But Hausch said that when he saw the knife, it was still blood-stained.
"We're not going to get away with this," Hausch said he told the group.
Minutes later, as the teens walked back to their car, they were arrested by police just blocks away from where Lucero was killed.
On cross-examination, defense attorney William Keahon got Hausch to concede that he never saw Conroy with the knife before the killing and that he didn't actually witness the stabbing. Hausch say the only person seen hitting Lucero was Kevin Shea, one of three other teens who also have pleaded guilty.
Besides his role in Lucero's killing, Hausch has pleaded guilty to participating in earlier attacks on Hispanics in the Patchogue-Medford area of eastern Long Island. He admitted that on several occasions, he and a number of other teens had attacked Hispanics merely because of their ethnicity.
In one case, Hausch said he and others shot a BB gun at a Hispanic man.