In a case that shocked New York City three summers ago, a man charged with shooting a gay man in the face in the West Village in front of several witnesses said in court Wednesday that he pulled the trigger in self-defense, The New York Times reports.
He also said that it couldn’t be a hate crime because he himself is bisexual and has dated transgender men.
Acting as his own lawyer, Elliot Morales admitted that he had gone on May 17, 2013 to the West Village, long a haven for gay people, carrying a loaded gun after a day of heavy drinking and traded sharp words with two gay men, Mark Carson and Danny Robinson, with whom he crossed paths on Sixth Avenue.
Robinson and other witnesses said in court that Morales had called them “gay wrestlers” and “faggots.” According to Robinson, he and Carson followed Morales around a corner, confronting him, when Morales pulled out a gun. Robinson said that he was urging Morales to put the gun away when Morales shot Carson in the face, killing him.
Wednesday, Morales said that the men challenged him to a fight even after he pulled out his gun, held it to his side and told the men to leave him alone.
“They were going to jump me,” Morales testified. He said he saw Carson reach into his pocket and take out what looked to him like a black gun–but Carson was actually unarmed.
Morales also said he didn’t remember calling the men gay slurs prior to the shooting, as several witnesses recalled. Adding that he himself was bisexual and had had relationships with transgender men, Morales said “Absolutely not” when asked if he felt hatred toward gay people.
He is charged with murder as a hate crime and weapons possession. if convicted, he will face 20 years to life in prison.
Mr. Morales, 36, is charged with murder as a hate crime and weapons possession. Several witnesses said they saw him shoot and kill Mr. Carson, who was 32, just after midnight on May 18, 2013. If convicted, Mr. Morales would face a sentence of at least 20 years to life.
Mr. Morales became embroiled in an argument after he insulted Mr. Carson and his friend Danny Robinson while they walked north along Avenue of the Americas. The two men, out for a night on the town, passed Mr. Morales and his two friends in front of a pizza shop.
Mr. Robinson and other witnesses testified that Mr. Morales had called him and Mr. Carson “gay wrestlers” and “faggots.” The two men confronted Mr. Morales. He walked around the corner, and Mr. Robinson and Mr. Carson followed, witnesses said. Mr. Robinson testified that he had called 911 on his cellphone and was urging Mr. Morales to put the gun away when Mr. Morales shot Mr. Carson.