Men Get 9 Years in Prison for Pennsylvania Hate-Crime Death

February 23, 2011 - 1:18 PM

Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP) - Two Pennsylvania men who were convicted of a federal hate crime for beating and kicking a Mexican immigrant who died of his injuries were each sentenced to nine years in prison on Wednesday.

Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky were among a group of white high school football players in the small town of Shenandoah who attacked 25-year-old Luis Ramirez in 2008. Prosecutors alleged they beat and kicked Ramirez because they didn't like Hispanics and wanted them out of their town.

Donchak and Piekarsky were convicted in October. The jury also convicted Donchak of two other counts related to a plot to cover up the beating.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the pair could have been sentenced to 12 to 15 years, but Judge Richard Caputo departed from the guidelines because of their personal character and conduct before Ramirez's beating, as well as the numerous letters and testimonials he received.

He noted that Ramirez's death and the actions of the pair were not to be disregarded.

"The jury found that Mr. Ramirez died as a result of his ethnicity or race," Caputo said. "This is serious business in America."

Piekarsky, in a statement to the court, expressed remorse for what happened and offered his condolences to Ramirez's family but said "it was not racial. I am not a racist."

Donchak chose not to make a statement to the court.