A knife in his right hand extended outward, Jeffrey Conroy went toward the "Spanish guy" who was swinging his belt, according to a written statement he made to Suffolk police hours after the fatal stabbing of Marcelo Lucero.

"His back was to me and as I ran towards him he turned to face me," according to the statement, made Nov. 9, 2008. "He was about four or five feet from me, I continued to run towards him and stabbed him once in either his shoulder or chest."

Minutes later as police approached, Conroy confessed, according to his statement. "I told the cop that my knife was tucked in my boxers and I was the one who stabbed the guy," he said in the statement obtained by Newsday. "I don't blame the Spanish guy for swinging the belt at us. It was obvious that he wanted to get the [expletive] out of there. He was ready to defend himself . . . "

The "guy" was Lucero, 37, an Ecuadorean immigrant whose death authorities have labeled a hate crime. Seven former Patchogue-Medford High School students were charged with gang assault and conspiracy in connection with Lucero's death. Conroy, now 18, of Medford, was also charged with murder and manslaughter as a hate crime. Nicholas Hausch and Jose Pacheco have pleaded guilty; the other five, including Conroy, are awaiting trial.

Pretrial hearings begin Wednesday on whether Conroy's statement was taken appropriately and can be used in a trial.

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Conroy's attorney, William Keahon of Islandia, did not return calls for comment Tuesday. He previously has said police were "creative" in taking the statement. When asked two months ago about excerpts from Conroy's statement quoted in court papers, in which Conroy referred to regularly going out and looking for Latino people to beat up, Keahon said, "He never said those words, he never said anything like it."

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Handwritten statements by each of the seven teens - written by Suffolk detectives based on interviews and signed by the defendants - were obtained by Newsday.

The statements tell a similar story of the night of Nov. 8, 2008: a group of teenagers hanging out at a local park, eventually leaving, determined to find Latinos to beat up.

In each statement, the seven defendants said they were near the Patchogue train station, where several of them approach Lucero and a companion and provoke a fight.

Both Lucero and his companion defended themselves by swinging their belts, according to the statements. One of them "yelled at us that he had been in this country 20 years," Jordan Dasch's statement read.

None of the other six defendants witnessed Conroy stab Lucero, according to their statements, and none realized Lucero was stabbed until Conroy told them as they walked away.

"Jeff said . . . 'I stabbed that guy.' At first I didn't believe him, but when he showed me his knife with blood on it I knew it was no joke," read Kevin Shea's statement. Shea's attorney argued in court last week the statement was coerced.

One defendant suggested Conroy toss the knife, according to multiple statements.

"I tried to wash the blood off in a puddle, but there was still blood on it," Conroy's statement read.