Friend of slain immigrant describes Patchogue attack

Seven teens accused in a hate crime killing

Seven teens accused in a hate crime killing are led out of Fifth Precinct in Patchogue. (Nov. 10, 2008) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Through almost three hours of intense cross-examination Wednesday in a Riverhead courtroom, an Ecuadorean immigrant sparred with a veteran defense attorney over details of the November 2008, attack in Patchogue on himself and his friend, Marcelo Lucero.

In his first public comments since Lucero's death that night, Angel Loja, 37, said he and Lucero were surrounded by a gang of six or seven teenagers on Nov. 8, 2008, before Lucero, 37, was stabbed in the chest.

Loja's version of the attack was questioned by William Keahon of Hauppauge, the attorney for Jeffrey Conroy, 19, of Medford, who is charged with stabbing Lucero.

Keahon questioned what he said were discrepancies between Loja's testimony Wednesday and his previous testimony before a grand jury, and he raised questions about Loja's legal name and payments that Loja has received from the Suffolk County district attorney's office.

At times clearly annoyed and exasperated, Loja fired back when Keahon asked about his employment status.

"Why are we talking about me and my job?" Loja said late Wednesday afternoon. "Why don't we talk about my friend who was killed?"

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Conroy has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, both as hate crimes. Prosecutors say he and six other former Patchogue-Medford High School students attacked Lucero, Loja and a third man on Nov. 8, 2008, as part of a yearlong series of attacks on Hispanics.

Speaking in Spanish through an interpreter, Loja was composed during questioning earlier Wednesday by Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell in Suffolk County Court.

He became more animated during Keahon's questioning, frequently gesturing with his hands and making faces when Keahon rephrased his questions.

Loja bristled when Keahon suggested that Lucero had chased his attackers down Railroad Avenue in Patchogue while waving his belt at them.