Mark Carson was murdered two years ago in an apparent hate crime in of all places, New York, in the West Village, just blocks from Christopher Street and the Stonewall Inn--the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. His accused killer Elliot Morales is currently on trial for murder as a hate crime and weapons possession.
Carson and his friend Danny Robinson got into an argument with Morales, who was yelling homophobic slurs at them. Morales allegedly shot Carson in the face and the 32-year-old Brooklyn native was later pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital.
Morales, 36, who made the ill-advised decision to represent himself after rejecting four court-appointed attorneys, insisted in his opening statements that, despite eyewitness testimony to the contrary, he is "not a bigot of any type."
"I am a human being like everyone else," he said. "I made my share of mistakes. That doesn't make me a bad person."
Several eyewitnesses saw Morales shoot Carson--it was a Saturday night in the West Village, after all--and he was picked up minutes later by police. Morales previously served 11 years in prison for armed robbery so I guess we're just dismissing murder as one in a long line of mistakes? .
To prove his non-discriminatory point, Morales called to the stand an ex-lover who happens to be trans--the equivalent of a racist calling up his one black friend. An employee at an LGBT testing clinic, Jane Smith, an alias, had a sexual relationship with Morales "throughout the years".
While on the witness stand, Carson's friend Danny Robinson recounted the incident on the night of May 18, 2013 (via The New York Times):
As they passed by Mr. Morales, they heard him say, "You all look like gay wrestlers," Mr. Robinson recalled. His friend was offended and went back to confront Mr. Morales. "It was Mark doing most of the talking," Mr. Robinson said. "He was like: 'You're not going to do anything! You're not going to do anything!'"
Mr. Robinson said Mr. Morales responded by saying, "Let's go around the corner and I'll show you," and began using anti-gay slurs.
Morales tried to suggest to Robinson that he and Carson provoked the shooting. According to the New York Post:
"You could have avoided all of this from escalating to the level it did if you and Mr. Carson just went along with your own business?"....
"That is so offensive," Robinson, 34, said, shaking his head as prosecutors objected.
Wouldn't you agree, seeing this firearm and telling me to put it down, wouldn't you consider that to be more instigating the whole situation?" Morales questioned Robinson.
"Instigating?" asked Robinson, incredulously. "Not at all."
"You could have kept going?" asked Morales.
"Yeah, we could have easily kept going while we see a guy standing there with a gun," Robinson said. "That doesn't make sense."
Morales even tried to pull the old white cop-switcheroo, claiming that he only shot Carson after Robinson pulled out his phone and he mistook it for a gun.
"Is it possible what happened was a reaction to the threat that was put on my own life?" the defendant asked. "[When] you reached into your pocket and removed what I believed was a black gun at the time."
As Robinson exited the courtroom, he wiped tears from his eyes.
However, testimony from another witness showed that before meeting Carson and Robinson that night, Morales had an itchy trigger finger and didn't need much or any provoking. Michael Cherry, the general manager at Annisa, had an altercation with Morales when the defendant decided to relieve himself on the restaurant's front window:
"I asked them to move away," Cherry said. "He (Morales) said, 'You wanna get a look at my tiny dick?"
Cherry walked away but moments later Morales entered the restaurant allegedly calling the staff "faggots" and threatening the bartender with a gun.
"He was saying, 'He had a gun, he had a gun,'' Cherry said of the bartender. "He was beside himself with fright."
If this wasn't such a tragic situation, Morales's feeble attempt at playing lawyer would be laughable, but instead it's just sad. Sad and disappointing. It's sad and disappointing that in the 21st century someone lost his life over literally nothing.
And though this clearly sounds like a hate crime, like Elliott Morales, I'm not a lawyer. But Shannon Lucey is. She's the prosecutor in this trial and she thinks that this clearly sounds like a hate crime, too.
"Mark Carson was a total stranger to Elliot Morales, and he was killed for no other reason than because he was gay," Lucey told the jury. "No other reason."