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Syracuse Law Review

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On October 31, 2007, a jury in Bronx County, New York convicted Edgar Morales, a gang member, of manslaughter in the first degree, attempted murder in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, and conspiracy in the second degree. Those convictions arose out of a shooting that occurred on August 18, 2002. That night, Mr. Morales and a group of his friends "showed up uninvited at a christening party at St. Paul's Lutheran Church" in New York City. Sometime that evening, "several people commandeered the disc jockey's microphone, and before long a fight broke out, [and gunshots] followed." In the end, Malenny Mendez, a 10-year-old girl, was shot and killed, and Javier Tocchimani, Morales's intended target, was shot and paralyzed.

A gang member being convicted of murder and manslaughter would be nothing new in New York City, but this case was different. This time, the jury found all four offenses to be "crimes of terrorism," in violation of New York's anti-terrorism statute. This marked the first use of that statute "against members of an organized gang who sought to dominate a neighborhood through their criminal acts." But Mr. Morales is not a member of Al Qaeda or Hamas. Rather, he belongs to the St. James Boys, a street gang accused of robbery, firing shots into crowds, beating and harassing strangers, and harassing rivals with knives.



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