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clock Oct 25, 2006 9:44 pm US/Eastern

Three Indicted On Hate Charges In Gay Man's Death

(AP) BROOKLYN Three men have been indicted on hate crimes charges in the murder of a gay man who was attacked alongside a parkway and then was hit by a car while trying to escape, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Michael Sandy, an interior designer, died Oct. 13, five days after the attack, when he was taken off life support. It was the day after his birthday.

Anthony Fortunato, 20, was indicted Wednesday. John Fox, 19, and Ilya Shurov, 20, were indicted last week. The three men were charged with numerous counts including second-degree murder as a hate crime and first-degree attempted robbery as a hate crime, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced. If convicted, they each could serve 25 years to life in prison.

Sandy was "targeted because of his sexual orientation," Hynes said.

Prosecutors said the defendants met Sandy, 29, in an online gay chat room, adam4adam, and arranged to meet him at Plumb Beach in Sheepshead Bay, a popular meeting spot for gay men seeking sexual encounters.

They intended to rob Sandy, prosecutors said, but when one of the defendants punched him, he ran onto the Belt Parkway, where he was struck by a car.

The three youths are being prosecuted under a section of the state hate crimes law that calls for hate crimes to be charged when a defendant selects a victim based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, Hynes said.

A lawyer for Fox, Philip Smallman, said his client didn't attack Sandy.

Fox's father, John Fox Sr., said he couldn't imagine that his son was involved in such an attack.

"I can't see him doing anything like this," Fox Sr. said. "He never did anything like that before, so why would he be rabidly anti-gay?"

A lawyer for Fortunato, Joseph Mure, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday.

There was no telephone listing for a Shurov in Brooklyn.

(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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