Family of murdered New York imam demand suspect be tried for hate crime
The Guardian - 08/19/2016
An investigation of Morel’s phone and Facebook account, as well as interviews with friends, have not surfaced any indication that he harbored any hatred towards Muslims, Boyce said.
Hate crime convictions have long been a contentious issue for the NYPD and prosecutors. Experts say, prosecutors are hesitant to charge defendants with hate crimes because it is difficult to prove and provides little benefit when pursuing a conviction.
“It is very difficult to establish that a hate crime has occurred,” said Jack Levin, co-director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University and author of The Violence of Hate. He explained that it requires understanding the thinking of a defendant. Also, the charge in the first-degree murder carries the heaviest sentence of life without parole, and therefore an additional hate crime conviction would be additional work with little gain for prosecutors.