Source AP ©

Man convicted of manslaughter as hate crime

A man who tried to get rid of gay bashing charges by telling that he himself is gay was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime at a remote New York City beach.

Jurors deliberated several days before convicting Anthony Fortunato in the death of Michael Sandy, a gay man who was beaten and then chased into the path of a moving car on Brooklyn's Belt Parkway on Oct. 8, 2006.

The jury acquitted Fortunato of murder, which could have put him behind bars for life. At his sentencing, he will face a jail term of between five and 25 years.

Prosecutors said Fortunato was part of a group of four young men who hatched a hate-inspired robbery scheme after they ran out of drugs and money on a weekend night. The group needed an easy victim, and Fortunato suggested they look for one in an Internet chat room frequented by gay men looking for sex partners.

They lured Sandy to Brooklyn's Plum Beach with a promise of a date, and then attacked him. Sandy was trying to escape when he was struck and fatally injured by a car on the Belt Parkway.

Fortunato, 21, testified that it was not a hate crime because he was also gay, or at least bisexual, and been having sexual thoughts about men since he was a teenager.

A second man charged in the attack, John Fox, was convicted of manslaughter and hate crime charges last week by a separate jury.

Another attacker, Gary Timmins, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and testified for prosecutors. A four suspect, Ilye Shurov, is still awaiting trial.