Fourth teen pleads guilty in Lucero beating trial
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In the most detailed account yet of a day of targeted violence, Jordan Dasch pleaded guilty Thursday in State Supreme Court in Riverhead to his involvement in four attacks on Latino men, culminating with the hate killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue.
Appearing in prison greens, Dasch, 19, of Medford, pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault and fourth-degree conspiracy in connection with the death of Marcelo Lucero on Nov. 8, 2008, becoming the fourth of the seven teenagers implicated in the killing to do so.
Dasch agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, including possibly testifying in the trial of Jeffrey Conroy, 19, of Medford, the only one in the group charged with murder and manslaughter as a hate crime. Jury selection for Conroy - who authorities say fatally stabbed Lucero - is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle said he would sentence Dasch to a maximum of 10 years in jail provided he continues to cooperate with prosecutors.
After sitting through the plea, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said prosecutors would seek additional jail time. "He was the driver of the car in four instances," Spota said. "He, in my view, deserves more jail time."
Spota said it was clear that Dasch and his codefendants went " 'beaner hopping' . . . with the full intention of doing nothing other than beating up Hispanics."
"It's incredible that something like this would occur in Suffolk County but it's very, very clear that this was their intention," Spota said.
Dasch also pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime and one count each of second-degree assault as a hate crime and fourth-degree criminal mischief for attacks that took place earlier that day.
In one attack, Dasch said he and a codefendant fired BB gun shots at a Latino victim. In another, Dasch said one of his codefendants stole a baseball hat from the Latino victim. "He wanted to show his friends," Dasch said.
Dasch's family left the courtroom, declining to comment.
Defense attorney Michael Gajdos of Patchogue said Dasch was "very remorseful" and decided to plead guilty, even though he did not have physical contact with Lucero, because of the media exposure and the fact that he could have been found guilty as an accomplice.
"Jordan didn't expect that this was going to end up this way," he said of Lucero's death. "He's admitted to his participation in this and he's hoping to move forward."
Last Friday, Kevin Shea, 18, of Medford, pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault, among other charges. Doyle said he would sentence Shea to no more than 10 years in prison.
Two other defendants are expected to be prosecuted after Conroy's trial.