The Associated Press
NEW YORK--A black man was sentenced Tuesday to 19 ½ years in prison for his part in the stabbing death of a Jewish scholar during a series of race riots in Brooklyn's Crown Heights section.
Lemrick Nelson Jr., 22, was given the maximum possible sentence by Judge David Trager in Brooklyn federal court, where he was convicted 13 months ago of violating Yankel Rosenbaum's civil rights.
Nelson earlier had been acquitted in a state court of stabbing Rosenhaum.
In a statement to the court Nelson denied committing the crime. Turning to look at Rosenbaum's family, he said: "I just want to say I have sympathy for your feelings for the loss of your son. I had no part in it.... I'm like a scapegoat."
Rosenbaum, 29 and a native of Australia, was fatally stabbed Aug. 19, 1991, the first of four nights of unrest. The trouble erupted after a black boy, Gavin Cato, 7, was fatally injured in a traffic accident involving a car driven by a Hasidic Jew.
A mob of black residents chased Rosenbaum, a visiting scholar studying the Holocaust, to a street corner, where he was stabbed. Rosenbaum died in a hospital hours later after identifying Nelson, then 16, to police as his assailant.
Charles Price, 44, was convicted of violating Rosenbaum's civil rights during the same federal trial. He will be sentenced later; his lawyers have sought to overturn the jury's finding that he incited a crowd to "get Jews."
The rioting in Crown Heights, which followed 1980s racial incidents in Howard Beach, Queens, as well as Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, was a major blow to New York's then-shaky race relations.
Copyright 1998 | The Orange County Register | Wednesday, April 1, 1998