When we first reported on the hate crime murder of Luis Ramirez a year and a half ago, we were amazed at the lack of media attention the vicious beating received. But almost a year later, when the teenage boys convicted of murdering the Mexicano father of two were sentenced to just 7 months in prison, we were downright outraged. Even Ramirez's fiance Crystal Dillman seemed unconvinced that justice would ever be served, telling CNN, "I know they're going to try to make him look like nothing, and try to justify what the kids did, even though there's no way they could justify this ... I know I'm not gonna get the justice I deserve. If he would have done this to them, maybe they would understand, and they would want him to be in jail. But because he's an illegal Mexican they don't care, right away he's less important."
Until today, we were inclined to agree with Dillman, but thankfully for her family, it seems that those involved in the murder and the subsequent cover-up are going to have to face the music. A federal grand jury has indicted Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, two of the Shenandoah, PA teenagers responsible for the attack, on hate crimes charges. They had been previously acquitted by an all-white jury of third-degree murder, aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation charges.
Shenandoah police chief, Matthew Nestor, and three officers under his command are also facing a litany of charges including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
"Following the beating, Donchak, Piekarsky and others, including members of the Shenandoah Police Department, participated in a scheme to obstruct the investigation of the fatal assault," the Justice Department said. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell played an important role in getting the Justice Department to take another look at the case, writing a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in which he stated, "The evidence suggests that Mr. Ramirez was targeted, beaten and killed because he was Mexican. Such lawlessness and violence hurts not only the victim of the attack, but also our towns and communities that are torn apart by such bigotry and intolerance."
If convicted on the hate crimes charges, both Donchak and Piekarsky could face to life in prison.