NYC Gang Member Convicted Under Terrorism Statute


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.”


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