After Sept. 11, 2001, 36 states enacted laws that would guarantee harsher sentences in terrorism cases. Yesterday, says the New York Times, Bronx jurors for the first time found a defendant guilty under New York's statute, and he did not fit the stereotype of a terrorist. Edgar Morales, 25, is a gang member who fatally shot a 10-year-old girl and wounded a second man outside a christening party in 2002. Bronx district attorney Robert Johnson was criticized by some lawmakers when he used the statute against Morales two years ago; some said it was not the law's intended use.
Johnson said the terrorism charge fit because Morales and his gang had terrorized Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the west Bronx for years through violence and intimidation. It also provided for a far more substantial sentence. Jurors said they had concluded very early that Morales was guilty of terrorism. “When you fire a gun into a crowd, whether you hit your intended victim or not, you scare people, you make them fearful for their lives, and that's why, in my opinion, the terrorism charges applied,” said a juror who identified herself as Linnea. Like the other jurors, she did not want to be identified because the case involved gang members and a killing. Another juror said, “When we think of terrorism, we think of Sept. 11th, so I was skeptical at first, but when we heard the definition of terrorism – to inflict fear and to dominate – from the get-go we agreed.”