WHAT: More than a year after their acquittal on state charges, two Pennsylvania men were convicted of a federal hate crime and could be sentenced to life in prison for beating and kicking 25-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez, who died of his injuries.
WHY: An all-white jury found that Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, former high school football players in the small town of Shenandoah, violated Ramirez’s civil rights when they assaulted him on July 12, 2008. The jury also convicted Donchak of two other counts related to a plot to cover up the beating.
HOW: Prosecutors alleged that Donchak, Piekarsky and two other white teens beat and kicked Ramirez because they didn’t like Hispanics and wanted them out of their town. Piekarsky was accused of delivering a fatal kick to Ramirez’s head after he’d been knocked unconscious by another teen. After the fight, the teens met and hatched a plan in which they would falsely tell police that no one was drunk, did any kicking or used any racial slurs.