Man convicted of assault as hate crime in Howard Beach attack
NEW YORK – A white man accused of pummeling a black man over the head with a baseball bat was convicted of assault as a hate crime Friday after a trial that focused on the defendant’s use of “the n-word” during the beating.A jury deliberated for eight hours over two days before finding 20-year-old Nicholas Minucci guilty of assaulting Glenn Moore last June in the predominantly white Queens neighborhood of Howard Beach – the site of another notorious attack that inflamed racial tensions 20 years ago.Minucci looked pale as the verdict was read. He also was convicted of robbery as a hate crime for stealing Moore’s sneakers and other items in the attack.”He suffered because Howard Beach is synonymous with racism. That is not what happened here,” defense attorney Albert Gaudelli said outside court.Minucci faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 15. Being found guilty of a hate crime increases the minimum sentence he could face from five years to eight.Prosecutors charged that Minucci, then a 240-pounder with the nickname “Fat Nick,” used what was described as “the n-word” during the attack and shouted, “We’ll show you not to come and rob white boys.””Race fueled this case in a substantial way, race heated this case up,” said prosecutor Michelle Goldstein.The attack took place in the same neighborhood as a 1986 racial assault in which a black man was struck by a car and killed while trying to escape a group of white attackers.Moore testified that his attackers took off his sneakers and had him on his knees when Minucci swung an aluminum bat at his head like he was trying to hit a pitch. Frankie Agostini, accused of being an accomplice in the beating, testified that the clang of the bat against Moore’s head “sounded like Barry Bonds hit a home run.”Moore, who suffered a fractured skull, admitted that he and two friends were in the neighborhood trying to steal a car but said they hadn’t taken anything when they crossed paths with Minucci and his companions.Defense attorney Albert Gaudelli argued that Minucci used reasonable force against someone attempting to commit a crime and said he was “a scapegoat because he’s a dope.” He contended that his client struck Moore in the legs, and that Moore fractured his skull by tripping and hitting his head on the ground.As for the racial epithet, Gaudelli had argued that it is so commonly used among young people that it no longer has a predominantly racist connotation.
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