Suspect in Anti-Gay Queens Attack Not Charged with Hate Crime
QUEENS — Prosecutors said there isn't enough evidence to pursue hate crimes charges against a against the man accused of fatally stabbing a 69-year-old man in a Queens subway station after claiming the victim blew kisses at him.
Steven Torres, 22, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday on charges of second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon after allegedly stabbing retired MTA mechanic Ever Orozco on Roosevelt Avenue near 90th Street Monday afternoon.
Prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to initially charge Torres with a hate crime, but said those charges could be added on later.
“The defendant is accused of fatally stabbing an innocent bystander," Queen's District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "His alleged actions were violent and ruthless and the charges against him will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Torres underwent a psychological evaluation after his arrest and is currently on suicide watch, according to his lawyer, Edwin Schulman.
Shortly before Monday's attack, Orozco dropped off his wife at a doctor's appointment about 1 p.m. near the 7 train. He was walking back to his Nissan Rogue SUV when Torres approached him, sources said.
"My husband, he's not with me. We were out all the time together, everywhere. Now, I am alone," Orozco's wife, Alba Orozco, said Tuesday.
Orozco said her husband wasn't interested in men and denied he would have blown kisses. However, a person can be charged with a hate crime even if the victim was not part of the group the attacker intended to target.
Erika Menendez, for example, was charged with a hate crime for allegedly pushing a man onto the 7 train subway tracks in 2012 after she claimed the attack was spurred by her hatred of Muslims, even though the victim was not Muslim.
Torres confessed to a second apparently homophobia-sparked attack on Tuesday, telling police he stabbed a coworker at a Lower East Side construction site Sept. 12 because that man also blew kisses at him, sources said.
Torres is expected to be arraigned later this week for the Manhattan attack. He faces up to 25 years to life if convicted, prosecutors said.