Sentence in Shenandoah Case Outrages Latino Leaders
Gustavo, Media Mobilizing Project | 06.18.2009
On Wednesday, Latino leaders decried the sentences of two teens acquitted in the beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramírez, for related charges to the July 2008 fatal incident in Shenandoah, Pa. "There was no Justice done for Luis Ramirez, and we should not and will not rest until all four perpetrators of such a hideous crime are duly prosecuted under federal hate crime statues and found guilty of murder," said Reverend Miguel Rivera, chairman for the National Coalition Of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC). Read more at Media Mobilizing Project
Brandon Piekarsky, 17, was sentenced to spend between 6 to 23 months in jail for simple assault, while Derrick Donchak was sentenced to 7 to 23 months for corruption of minors. After a Schuylkill County jury acquitted both teens of the most serious charges—which included ethnic intimidation, third degree homicide and aggravated assault—Latino organizations manifested their outrage and call on federal authorities to take action in this case. "We are getting ready to present the Department of Justice with the 50,000 signatures we collected through our online petition demanding them to file federal charges against the two teens," said Gladys Limón, staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), organization protecting the interests of Crystal Dilman, with whom the late Ramírez had two children. MALDEF, according to Limón, is still hopeful that justice can be made in this case, accomplishing what Schuylkill County prosecutors could not. "Donchak and Piekarsky's sentences are not commesurate with what they did and that's why I believe the justice system fell flat," Limón said. "I hope the Department of Justice continues its investigation and soon files charges against these two teens." This group has been very vocal in calling this a hate crime—a case that the prosecution unsuccesfully made—and they have a petition on their website: maldef.org. Though the Department of Justice could not be reached for comment on this story, a spokesman recently told Media Mobilizing Project that the agency's Civil Rights Division had an ongoing investigation on this case. Currently, Brandon Walsh, another teen involved in the fatal beating and the perpetrator witnesses say gave one of the fatal blows to Ramírez, awaits sentencing after he plead guilty before a grand jury to violating Ramírez' housing rights, a federal crime for which he could spend between 4 to 9 years in prison. Schuykill County District Attorney James Goodman assured local media that federal authorities are also investigating the Shenandoah Police Department for their dealing of the investigation and how they told the kids to put together a story after it was known how critical Ramirez' condition was.