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Two Face Hate Crime Charges In Death of Undocumented Immigrant; Jury Selected

Two years ago, two high school students beat an undocumented immigrant to death in the coalfields of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. 

On Monday, a jury will be chosen in Scranton for the trial in which two local white football players, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, now face charges of committing a federal hate crime in the brawl with Mexican immigrant Luis Ramírez, 25.

Piekarsky, now 18, and Donchak, now 20 were acquitted of state charges last year by an all-white jury. The town's former police chief and two officers are scheduled to go on trial next year for allegedly sabotaging the investigation.

At the time of the original investigation, Piekarsky faced ethnic intimidation and third degree murder charges and Donchak faced ethnic intimidation and aggravated assault charges.

If both men are found guilty of the federal hate crime charges this time around the two men could face life in prison.

Gladys Limon, an attorney of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the trial this week is a new opportunity for the perpetrators of the crime to take responsibility.

"More than two years after the brutal beating, the family (the victim) and the public will for the first time, have the opportunity to see justice done," said Limon, who has been very aware of the case and who accompanied American mother of the children of Ramírez in the first trial. "We know that government action (in the first trial) resulted in total injustice."

It is expected Prosecuters will say Ramírez was a victim of bullies who attacked him and were motivated by their antipathy toward the growing Hispanic population in the city.

According to prosecutors, Donchak and Piekarsky, used ethnic insults during the fight against Ramírez, shouting: "Go back to Mexico" and "tell your ------- Mexican friends to get the hell out of Shenandoah.”

The defendants claim that Ramírez's ethnicity had nothing to do with the brawl, he was the aggressor and that the actions of the federal prosecution are politically motivated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.