Anthony Fortunato
, 21, one of the three men charged with the hate crime murder of Michael Sandy told a jury yesterday that he was gay and only wanted to score some pot the night he and his friends robbed and beat Sandy until he ran into the path of an oncoming car and died.

Asked by his attorney if he were gay, Fortunato said: "I could be homosexual or bisexual. … I was leading two complete double lives."

Sandy, who was 28 at the time, was robbed and beaten by three men. He managed to break free but was chased onto the Belt Parkway where he was struck by a car and severely injured. He never regained consciousness from his injuries and died after his family decided to remove him from a life support respirator that had kept him alive since his attack.

Fortunato’s defense is trying to convince the jury that he couldn’t have committed a hate crime against Sandy if he was gay too. 

Well let’s say that he is gay, does that mean that gays are incapable of committing hate crimes against each other?  Ever heard of internalized homophobia?  And does that mean that Fortunato and his accomplices didn’t rob and beat Sandy because he was Black rather than gay.  Whose to say if this wasn’t as much about race as it was about sexuality?

Bottom line, Sandy’s death was a crime of hate and on the eve of the one-year anniversary of his murder and what would have been his 30th birthday, I am hopeful that the jury will see past this last minute attempt at a defense for an act that is indefensible.