Elliot Morales: New York Jury To Decide If Shooting Of Gay Man Was A Hate Crime

Elliot Morales, 36, who was arrested for shooting a gay man, Mark Carson, 32, in the face after taunting him and his partner in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, in 2013 will know whether his murder is being charged as a hate crime by jurors on Tuesday, March 8.

According to ABC News, Morales, who represented himself after turning down four court-appointed attorneys, admitted that he pulled the trigger, but claims he acted in defense. He refuted claims that the killing of Carson was a hate crime because he is bisexual, an assertion confirmed by a star witness who said they were former lovers.

Morales, an ex-convict who had spent 11 years in prison for armed robbery, allegedly shot the deceased a few blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, the location of the 1969 riots that facilitated the gay rights movement.

Carson and his roommate, Danny Robinson, were taking a walk shortly after midnight and encountered Morales in front of a pizza parlor. Witnesses say Morales hurled a gay slur at the two men, saying they looked like “gay wrestlers.”

The two men squared up to Morales, who left in a hurry, leading the men to a corner street where he then pulled out a handgun and shot Carson in the face and at close range. He was arrested by police a few hours later. Police say Morales was laughing crazily as he described the murder he had just committed.

The cold blooded killing made headlines and sparked a rally, especially since it came against a backdrop of anti-gay hate crimes in the spring of 2013. It was a sensational trial because Morales, the killer, represented himself in court and cross-examined Robinson—the brokenhearted survivor who was still coming to terms with the killing of his partner.

During a courtroom row, Morales held the gay men responsible for the altercation that led to the shooting. He suggested that they should have bottled up the sneers and simply moved on. Instead, they preferred to follow him to a street corner and instigate the confrontation.

“You could have avoided all of this from escalating to the level it did, had you and Mr Carson just went along with your own business,” Morales told Robinson during a cross-examination. Robinson in a mixture of disbelief and anguish stooped his head and said, “That is so offensive.”

Morales also called a transgender woman, who was shielded from the jury, and used the pseudonym “Jane Smith.” She testified that she enjoyed a sexual relationship with the defendant for many years and never knew him to harbor ill-feelings towards gay people.

“Absolutely not, not that I recall, ” Smith said.

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When Morales took the stand in his defense, he said he had been drinking more than usual before the incident. He admitted arguing with Carson and his boyfriend, Robinson, but denied using hateful words. He said he pulled out his gun because he was scared the men would kill him. Mark Carson was unarmed.

“I thought he was going to take something out and shoot me with it, I thought one or maybe both of them had a firearm. So I kind of raised the firearm and turned away and shot it at the same time,” Morales testified.

Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey countered Morales saying he had issues with his own sexuality and was angrily jealous that Carson and Robinson had no qualms with their own sexual leanings.

“He (Morales) has a lot of self-loathing issues. They’re inside him and they came out when he saw Mark Carson and Danny Robinson be who they are in public,” she said.

Morales faces a maximum 30 years in prison if he is found guilty.

[Photo by Mary Altaffer/Associated Press]