Days after gunman Omar Mateen murdered 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a New York judge sentenced Elliot Morales, who killed a gay man in 2013, to 40 years to life Tuesday, the New York Daily News is reporting.
Morales was convicted of murder as a hate crime when he killed a 32-year-old gay black man, Mark Carson, in Manhattan three years ago. Morales had hounded Carson and his partner in the West Village, harassing them with homophobic remarks before killing Carson.
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Judge A. Kirke Bartley Jr., who sentenced Morales in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, linked the killing to the nightclub massacre.
“I can’t help but perceive or observe the parallel tragedy in Orlando. That parallel is revealed in hatred, self-loathing, fear and death.”
Morales had represented himself during the two-week trial, assuming the roles of both defendant and defense lawyer. Addressing the 36-year-old in court Tuesday, Judge Bartley said he was unmoved that Morales could appear calm and well-behaved in a courtroom. The judge said it did not change the fact that he was “something worthy of a character in a Stephen King novel, in short, a monster.”
Justice! Elliot Morales was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison earlier today for the murder of Mark Carson. pic.twitter.com/w2EaCmI3qG
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Members of the jury had deliberated for two days before refuting Morales’ claim that his sexual relationships with transgender women showed that he was not homophobic and did not kill Mark Carson because he hated gay people.
In a packed courtroom, the 36-year-old man had said, “It is beyond my comprehension how someone like myself, who happens to be bisexual and part of the LGBTQ community, can be falsely accused and then convicted of a hate crime.”
Jurors saw a pattern in his behavior that suggested otherwise.
Before encountering Carson and his partner Danny Robinson, Morales had barged into a restaurant hurling anti-gay slurs and even threatened an employee with a handgun who confronted him over urinating on the sidewalk. When Morales left the restaurant, he spotted Carson and Robinson dressed in tank tops and shorts taking an evening stroll. He had taunted them, calling them “f*****s” and “gay wrestlers.” The men had confronted Morales when he followed them into a poorly lit alley still making derogatory remarks. The squabble got out of hand when Morales pulled out a silver revolver and shot Carson in the face.
Morales fled the scene of the crime, but he was later arrested by police. He said he had shot Carson “because he tried to act tough.” He also said that he was scared for his life and acted in self-defense because he thought that Robinson was reaching for a weapon and not his phone. The prosecution shut down his claims and saying he had acted out of unjustifiable rage and bigotry and not because he was afraid.
The lead prosecutor, Shannon Lucey, pointed out that Morales was struggling with self-loathing issues, and despite claiming to have enjoyed intimate relationships with transgender people, he never once appeared with them out in the open. She argued that Morales, seeing both Carson and Robinson together and in public, triggered a discomfort with his own sexuality.
Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., applauded the stiff sentence, saying that any life lost to gun violence in the city was a painful one. He expressed concern over the spate of homophobic incidents and promised to combat and prevent crimes against LGBTQ people in New York.
During the trial, Morales issued an apology to Carson’s family but then blamed the medics for his victim’s death, saying the EMT workers allowed him to die.
[Photo by Richard Drew, File/AP Images]