Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky were convicted by a jury in Scranton on Thursday of violating the civil rights of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez when they beat and killed him in 2008. The conviction is a dramatic reversal of the acquittal of the two young men last year by an all-white jury in a local court.
Since the acquittal, nearly half of the police force of Shenandoah has been arrested for covering-up the role of the six white teenagers involved in Luis Ramirez’s death or for other corrupt practices.
The jury returned its verdict on the first full day of deliberations.
In her summation on Wednesday, Justice Department prosecutor Myesha Braden told jurors that, at the time of the killing, the two defendants “showed no remorse that night…no sense of responsibility for having beaten a man to the point of death,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I just want to take a moment to thank our readers. After the acquittal, Long Island Wins and bloggers around the country organized a campaign of e-mails to Gov. Ed Rendell asking him to appeal for a federal investigation, which he subsequently did. Your activism was a factor in obtaining justice for the children of Luis Ramirez.
Those of you familiar with the case know that immediately after the killing supporters of the young men began organizing large anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rallies in the town. Following the acquittal last year, anti-immigrant activists tried to organize a victory celebration but had to cancel it when their keynote speaker, a well-known Nazi and self-proclaimed admirer of Adolf Hitler, became the focus of attention in the Philadelphia media.
With the exposure of the police cover-up in the Ramirez investigation, some locals seem to have changed their minds about the case, but reporters say that many still support the young men and continue to blame Ramirez for his own death because he came to the United States. For example, Michael Najda told a reporter, “I don’t think it’s right that they were found guilty on it. He was here illegally so maybe if he was never here, this would have never happened.”
According to a reporter from WNEP-TV, even after the verdict “many maintain [the two men] did nothing wrong.”
Dave Sosa, who worked with one of the men said: “Right when I heard they were guilty, like half of the people I work with went right into tears. I couldn’t even believe it.”
Here is video from WNEP: