Peekskill men arraigned in brutal beating of immigrant

Four Peekskill men pleaded not guilty  today to viciously beating of Ecuadorian immigrant in the foyer of his apartment building four months ago.

Jarron Sligh and Ronnie Juett, both 23, Jamar Walker (far left), 20, and Keith Walker, (left) who turns 19 tomorrow, were arragined in in Westchester County Court on an indictment charging them with first-degree gang assault, a felony punishable by 25 years in state prison.

The victim, Julio Serrano, a laborer, was hospitalized for a month after the May 15 attack, prosecutors said. He suffered a broken jaw, cheek, eye socket and ribs; a fractured jaw and a ruptured spleen that had to be removed. He also has brain damage and a limited memory of the attack.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert Holdman set bail at $250,000 for Sligh and Juett. Attorneys for Jamal and Keith Walker, who are being held without bail, reserved the right to have a bail hearing at a later date.
Prosecutors said the four suspects were “hanging out” with several other men on the corner of Nelson Avenue and John Street at 1:30 a.m. when Sligh (pictured left) began harassing Serrano across the street. Sligh blocked Serrano’s path with a bicycle, then hit him in the face. Serrano walked home to 205 Nelson Ave. and sat on the steps, holding his face, while Sligh returned to the corner and bragged about the attack.

A few minutes later, the defendants claim, Serrano threw a glass bottle at them. They ran after Serrano, who tried to run inside the building but was trapped in the vestibule. The four suspects surrounded him and kicked, punched and stomped on him, according to prosecutors.

The four men returned to the corner and bragged and laughed about the beating to their friends, prosecutors allege. One of Serrano’s neighbors found him and called for help.

According to court papers, video surveillance shows the four suspects entering the vestibule. Prosecutors said witnesses testimony points to the four men as Serrano’s attackers.

The four suspects were not charged with a hate crime, which requires corroborating evidence that a victim was targeted specifically because of his race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

They are due back in court for a conference before Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli on Aug. 31.

Juett, (left) has a criminal record that includes a felony conviction of first-degree sexual abuse involving a girl less than 11 years old, a drug conviction and a conspiracy conviction, in which he served jail time.

Sligh, a father of two young children, previously served nine months in jail on a drug conviction and currently has four open cases in Peekskill on misdemeanor charges of trespassing, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.