WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The fatal stabbing of a 56-year-old woman at a mall will be prosecuted as a hate crime because the suspect said he wanted to kill a white person, authorities said Tuesday.
Phillip Grant (search), 43, who is black, was indicted Tuesday on charges of murder, murder as a hate crime, and possession of a weapon. The June 29 slaying of Concetta Russo-Carriero (search) took place in the parking garage of the Galleria Mall in White Plains.
If convicted of murder as a hate crime, the minimum sentence would be 20 years to life instead of 15 years to life, prosecutors said.
A call to Grant's lawyer was not immediately returned.
In a 45-minute tape played at a court hearing earlier this month, Grant told police that he was fighting a race war and killed the woman because she was white.
"All I knew was she had blond hair and blue eyes and she had to die," he said. "(She) was not an innocent victim — because she was white."
Grant, who was homeless, is a convicted rapist who had served his maximum sentence.
The killing has produced growing support for a civil commitment law that would subject a violent sex offender to a second trial upon his or her release. A jury would determine whether a convict should be kept in a mental institution until no longer considered dangerous.