County attorney decides man's shooting death was hate crimePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX – A deadly shooting in south Phoenix has now been officially labeled a hate crime.
On May 6 police say Gary Kelley, who is white, gunned down his neighbor, Juan Varela, who was Hispanic.
The victim's family has argued since the shooting that Varela was killed because of his skin color and due to the growing tension over Arizona's new immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.
Antonio Varela says, "I am standing right next to my brother when I seen him die. It wasn’t like I was far away and heard what I heard. I was right next to him. He came up to me and told me in my face, ‘Go back you f'n wetback. Go back to Mexico. You are going to die today."
Kelley was initially charged with second-degree murder but on Wednesday, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley tacked on a "hate crime" charge that could mean harsher sentencing for Kelley if he is convicted.