"May God forgive them and may my son forgive them."
With those 10 words yesterday, Rosario Lucero expressed her feelings about the 2008 killing of her son Marcelo.
She then started to pray, and was joined by her two other children, Joselo and Isabel, and two family spokesmen, the Rev. Allan Ramirez and Fernando Mateo, on the Patchogue driveway where a band of teenagers had attacked her son.
"Santa Maria, madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros," they murmured. "Blessed Mary, mother of God, pray for us."
Then Rosario Lucero spoke, tears filling her eyes. "Here my son lost his life," she said in Spanish, in a soft voice, as a crush of news cameras and reporters surrounded the diminutive woman who flew in from Gualaceo, Ecuador, for the end of the trial. The spot where Marcelo Lucero died 17 months ago was the first place Rosario wanted to visit after the jury's verdict. It found Jeffrey Conroy guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and other charges.
At the courthouse, Rosario spoke of how much her son's death pained her, and said in Spanish, "May God forgive them for the acts they've committed. But God is the only one in charge of forgiving."
In Patchogue after the prayer, Rosario and her children walked slowly down the street to Mateo's car. In the backseat, she spoke of her reaction to the verdict.
The family was delayed and didn't arrive in time to hear the jury announce the verdict. But she said the jury did its work "very well," adding that "we don't know anything about the laws" in the United States. "Only the judge decides and he knows the charges to put."
She said she has in her mind tortuous images of Marcelo's last moments. "I imagine the moments he was in agony, and I couldn't help him," she said. "This pain I have nailed in my heart and in my mind, and I can't do anything."
She added: "Nothing is going to bring him back. Not insults. Not offensive comments. My son is not going to return."