October 14th, 2010
06:01 PM ET

Two convicted of hate crimes in immigrant's beating death

Luiz Ramirez died in July 2008 after a street brawl in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

A federal jury in Pennsylvania has convicted two men of hate crimes in connection with the beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant in 2008.

Derrick M. Donchak and Brandon J. Piekarsky were each charged with a hate crime for fatally beating Luis Ramirez on a street in Shenandoah while shouting racial epithets, according to the Department of Justice.

Donchak’s head dropped as the verdict was read, and his parents wept audibly. Piekarsky's mother, Tammy, said, "We’re going to be OK. We will appeal."

The all-white jury deliberated for about six and a half hours. Donchak and Piekarsky face potential life sentences when they are sentenced January 24. A request for bail was denied.

Jurors also convicted Donchak of trying to cover up the crime with members of the Shenandoah Police Department. Chief Matthew R. Nestor, Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes - the boyfriend of Piekarsky's mother - face federal obstruction of justice charges for allegedly impeding the investigation. Their trials are scheduled for January.

Donchak also faces substantial additional time on the conspiracy and obstruction of justice convictions.

He and Piekarsky were tried in state court in 2009 in connection with Ramirez's death. They were acquitted of murder charges but convicted of simple assault and alcohol-related offenses. An outcry ensued from Latino groups and politicians, including Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, urging the federal government to pursue the case.

Federal authorities convened a grand jury, which indicted the pair December 10.

"Four people attacked one person because of his race and because they didn't want people like him living in their town," Assistant Attorney General Myesha K. Braden said.

Witnesses testified that racist language was used before and during the attack, Braden said. Ramirez was kicked in the head repeatedly after falling down.

Lawyers for the defendants said that the encounter had been no more than a fight fueled by testosterone and alcohol. William Fetterhoff, a lawyer for Donchak, said Ramirez chased one of the men.

Crystal Dillman, the mother of Ramirez's two children, said she was "ecstatic" over the verdict but still looking forward to the trial of the three Shenandoah policemen.

"It’s nice to know that there is some justice for Luis," she said. "I won't completely move on until the federal trial of the police officers is done, until it is proven that there was a conspiracy to stop justice."

- CNN's Rose Arce and Eden Pontz contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Crime • Pennsylvania
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. joe997788

    Ramirez got what he deserved and it is a travesty that these men are being railroaded for defending themselves. Illegals are ruining towns all over the United States and a bias judicial system doesn’t allow American citizens to defend themselves without fear of being charged with a “hate crime”.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. heya

    So if he wasn't illegal and was born in the US then that would make a differnce... People are ignorant...America is made up of all illegal citizens. Dumbies white's, latino's, blacks are all from somewhere else originally. So really stop and think about what you say and read your history. Murder is murder no matter where you are you should pay for your crime.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Tootsie

      Again you should really try to pay attention. They were not found GUILTY of MURDER! This was not a MURDER trial.

      October 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. IHateIllegals

    I am of Indian decent all you illegals are trying to steal MY LAND GO THE HELL HOME>

    October 15, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • joe997788

      Your forefathers traded away your lands for some firewater; take your gripes up with your own elders.

      October 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ha ha

      Joe997788 Too funny!

      October 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eivor

    Hey Nice Girl:

    I have heard that theory before that the violence in America can be attributed to the early British criminals shipped over here. As a non-violent immigrant Brit (40 years now) I take umbrage to that statement. Does Australia have the same crime rate as the US?

    As a psychologist and a supposedly intelligent person, you come across like a moron.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ashley

    Its always a blame game. He started it, he touched me first.. waaa waaa waaa! Bottom line, they beat a man so bad he is now dead, so regardless who started it, they need to be held accountable and be big boys and take responsibility for their actions. They were not convicted of murder so they are not murders but they are guilty of what they were conviced of.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jeannette

    Maybe if Tammy is really lucky, she can visit her son and her boyfriend in the same prison.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jeannette

    Where id mandi's post that folks are commenting on??

    October 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ricky Dowdell

    He shouldn't have been here in the first place

    October 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Annie Jo

    MIRIAM LETECIA MALAVE, screamed "All white people, will die tonight," then her an her two racist hispanic sons, attacked white people in their bar, with baseball bats. This happened in Shenandoah, PA, last year and MIRIAM LETECIA MALAVE and her RACIST hispanic sons, have not been charged, with a FEDERAL HATE CRIME. Infact, D.A. Goodman, saw to it, that state ethnic charges, against them, were dropped. MAIRAM LECTECIA MALAVE verbally said, she was going to KILL WHITE PEOPLE and then, did her best to carry out her VIOLENT HATE CRIME, against whites. We must DEMAND that Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak be released and that RACIST MIRIAM LETECIA MALAVE and her two racist hispanic sons, be charge with a FEDERAL HATE CRIME.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hispanic/Latino Is Not A Race

    This is basically a most unfortunate account of Ethnic-bashing. That is due to the fact that it can't really be called a Race issue since most everyone who has a good grasp of the English language and proper protocol understands that there is no such thing as a "Hispanic Race". Hispanics and Latinos fall under the category of the White race. They always have and if anyone doubts that, they need go no further than their local government office to find out. Therefore, it is not about race but rather about ethnicity. And it is most unfortunate that this innocent man suffered the way he did due to his ethnicity but I trust that the good Lord and the law will place the perpetrators of the crime where they rightfully belong - behind bars for good!

    October 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. QuitLaw

    but if you would insist...you can (pursue law) do so at your own risk. You can't win a single case, even jaywalking.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nepawoods

    If Luiz Ramirez had come to the US legally, he'd still be dead. His killers never checked his immigration status. The fact that he was here illegally is entirely irrelevant.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. unfortunate

    This is a very unfortunate story and outcome for not only the victim of the crimes but also for these young men. Everyone on her can say this and that about the young men but until you have lived like them in the town that they come from you will never know how things happen. In a situation influenced and fueled by alcohol and adrenaline (which i do not use as an excuse) you never know how you would have acted if you were raised under their standards. Especially when you are "on your high horse" after a party, not to mention you were still with your friends and you feel to be protected by your numbers. Many people would have acted out in that situation.

    Also, i feel that it is wrong to label this a HATE CRIME, because if they would have been found guilty or murder in the first place then no one would have looked at it from that angle. The only reason the HATE CRIME was thrown out there was because they needed a reason to try them again because it was ridiculous how easily they got away with murder. Trust me i've been following this story closely and i've done my homework. I'm willing to say that if this situation involved the same young men and an outside white male (rather than the unfortunate mr. ramirez) i believe the same outcome would have resulted.

    So for those of you wondering whose side im on.. yes, they are guilty. but no, they are not necessarily bad men.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    one day true americans, not you liberals, will put this right, america for americans, not illegal immigrants sucking our system dry so demcrats can tax us to death

    October 23, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
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