Jurors at State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday heard testimony from a gay man who watched his best friend die on a New York City street after an attacker allegedly shouted homophobic slurs at the pair and shot the man in the face, according to The New York Times.
Danny Robinson, 34, told the court that he pleaded with alleged murderer Elliot Morales, 36, to put down his weapon. “I was saying, ‘Why do you have to do this?’” the paper reported. “‘Are you going to shoot us out here in front of all these people? Put the gun down.’”
Robinson and his friend Mark Carson, 32, were out in New York City's historic West Village, a historically LGBT-friendly neighborhood that is also home to the legendary Stonewall Inn. Morales had allegedly shouted at the pair as they walked along Sixth Avenue, calling them "faggots" and "gay wrestlers" on May 18, 2013. Carson was angered by the comments and followed Morales to confront him. “It was Mark doing most of the talking,” Robinson reportedly recalled in court. “He was like: ‘You’re not going to do anything! You’re not going to do anything!’”
Moments later, Carson was shot.
According to the Times, prosecutor Shannon Lucey told the jury that Morales' only motive for the murder was the presumed sexual orientation of his victim. “Mark Carson was a total stranger to Elliot Morales, and he was killed for no other reason than because he was gay,”she told the jury. “No other reason.”
Lucey said Morales's hate-filled evening began with an antigay rant while in a car with two friends, and continued at a restaurant. In court she reportedly said Morales was confronted by restaurant staff for public urination, and that he entered the establishment yelling antigay slurs at a bartender, threatening the man's life and displaying a weapon.
Morales is representing himself in court, and told jurors that he was “not a bigot of any type” and claimed that “what happened was not an act of intent or hate on my part.”
“I am a human being like everyone else,” he reportedly said. “I made my share of mistakes. That doesn’t make me a bad person.”
Following the murder, demonstrations were held against antigay violence in New York City.
Watch people in NYC's West Village discuss their feelings following Carson's murder, below.