Racial Killing Defendant Acquitted of Murder, Convicted on 3 Charges
The last defendant in a Bensonhurst racial slaying was acquitted of murder and manslaughter Tuesday, but a jury convicted him of some lesser offenses.
Pasquale Raucci, 21, was convicted of unlawful imprisonment, menacing and fourth-degree weapons possession in the Aug. 23, 1989, slaying of Yusuf Hawkins, whose shooting death fueled racial tensions citywide.
Prosecutors were left with one murder conviction in the case.
Hawkins and three friends, all black teen-agers from East New York, had come to the neighborhood to look at a used car. They were confronted by bat-wielding white youths, who were waiting for a group that had been rumored to be coming to the neighborhood looking for trouble. In the melee that followed, Hawkins was killed.
The Bensonhurst trials were plagued by reluctant witnesses who were on the streets of the mostly white neighborhood on the night that Hawkins was slain.
In the Raucci case, one key witness--who had testified at previous trials--refused to do so again last week. Kim Schlecker, 15, had been expected to repeat earlier testimony placing Raucci at the front of the mob that chased Hawkins before he was shot.
Raucci’s attorney argued that his client was working until shortly before the incident and had nothing to do with the shooting.