No jury yet in Shenandoah hate crime trial

Published in Latina Lista

After an entire day of proceedings, there is no jury yet for the trial of two Shenandoah, Pa., men charged with federal hate crime in the 2008 beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, an undocumented Mexican immigrant.

Brandon J. Piekarsky (green shirt) and Derrick M. Donchak (blue shirt) leaving the William J. Nealon United States Courthouse in Scranton, Pa., where today is set to start the federal trial against them for the fatal beating of Luis Eduardo Ramírez Zavala.

Judge Richard A. Caputo dismissed 21 of the 75 prospective jurors and asked the remaining 54 to be back in court tomorrow to continue with the individual questionings at 9 a.m.

“The questions are designed to find a fair and impartial jury,” Judge Caputo told the jurors before the individual interviews started inside a meeting room.

Derrick M. Donchak, 20, and Brandon J. Piekarsky, 18, face life in prison if found guilty of the charges stemming from the beating that took the life of Ramírez Zavala on July 12, 2008.

Both are accused of violating Ramírez Zavala’s civil rights motivated by the fact that he was Hispanic and lived in a dwelling there, according to the federal indictment.

Mr. Donchak is also charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

This is not the first time both men go to court. Mr. Donchak and Mr. Piekarski were acquitted of racial intimidation charges after a week-long state trial in April 2009.

Under a persistent rain, both men showed up this morning at the William J. Nealon Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse in Scranton shortly after 8 a.m.

Inside the building waited the pool of 75 jurors from across the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

There were also representatives from the Mexican Consulate, who said they would be present for the entire trial.


About Gustavo Martínez Contreras

was born in Texas, brewed in Mexico City, seasoned in the Mexico-United States border, aged walking the streets of Philadelphia. He had a short-lived stint eating grits, fried chicken, and peaches in Atlanta. He later became a béisbol writer for El Diario de Nueva York. He has written about immigrant communities in English, Spanish, and some Spanglish. Although he does not have a shelf full of awards, Gustavo has received thank you notes and hugs from people who have trusted him with their stories. His work has appeared in Voices of New York, El Diario/La Prensa, Dallas’ Al Día, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Weekly, Radio Bilingüe, Latina Lista,, among others. He is currently pursuing a master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
This entry was posted in Immigration, Luis Ramírez, Shenandoah. Bookmark the permalink.

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