Jury to weigh in on whether shooting of gay man was a hate crime
A jury is set to weigh in this coming week on whether the shooting of a gay man in New York City was a hate crime.
Elliot Morales was arrested after taunting a gay man before shooting him in the head.
On the scene, police recorded him laughing, before telling them “diagnosis dead, doctor”.
The trial concluded on Thursday after Morales said he was “trisexual”, and that he acted in self defence.
He argued that he couldn’t be guilty of a hate crime against a gay man because he is bisexual.
Supporting his claims in court was a transgender woman who says she was previously his lover.
However New York law does not specify that the perpetrator of a hate crime has to be a different sexual orientation to their victim in order to be guilty.
Morales, 36, is charged with the second-degree murder of Mark Carson, 32 – who he shot in the head on a Manhattan street in May 2013.
“I consider myself trisexual, bisexual – multiple,” he told New York Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“It doesn’t matter. Male, female.”
Morales – who is representing himself after rejected four court appointed attorney – admits to shooting Carson after a day of heavy drinking.
Jurors will weigh in on whether he is guilty of murder as a hate crime and weapons possession.
The killer, who was previously in prison for armed robbery, claims it was his victim and a friend – Danny Robinson, 34 – who instigated the fight.
“They were going to jump me,” he told the court.
“I thought he was going to take something out and shoot me with it,” he continued.
“I thought one or maybe both of them had a firearm. So I kind of raised the firearm and turned away and shot it at the same time.
“It was kind of like a reaction thing, and I just ran.”
Carson was not armed.
Asked if he was homophobic, Morales said, “Absolutely not.”
The incident began after a drunken Morales asked Carson and Robinson “are you, gay wrestlers?” and called them “faggots”.
The men turned around and confronted him, according to prosecutors.
Morales then walked around the corner with the two men following. They exchanged more words before Morales shot Carson in the face, as Robinson begged him not to.
Earlier this week, Morales called as his first witness a former trans lover who he had met online.
The 38-year-old woman – using the pseudonym Jane Smith – testified from behind a curtain in Manhattan Supreme Court, stating that she and Morales had a physical relationship on and off for a decade.
Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey argued that Morales “has a lot of self-loathing issues,” saying the issues “came out when he saw Mark Carson and Danny Robinson be who they are in public.”
Morales faces up to thirty years in prison if found guilty.