Man pleads not guilty in NYC hate-crime shooting

NEW YORK (AP) - A man accused of fatally shooting a gay man walking with a companion in New York City's Greenwich Village afterward claimed that he opened fire because the victim "thought he was tough in front of his bitch," prosecutors said in court papers Tuesday.

Elliot Morales also allegedly boasted to police "It's the last thing he'll remember," shortly after his arrest in the hate crime case. In later statements, Morales insisted he couldn't remember what happened and doesn't carry a bias against gays.

"I am not gay," he said, according to court papers. "I don't have a problem with gay people. I have lots of gays in my life."

He added: "This is gonna kill my mom. ... I always hurt her and make bad decisions in life and make her cry."

The purported statements were filed with the court after the 33-year-old Morales pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder as a hate crime in the shooting of Mark Carson. He also is charged with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.

Prosecutors allege Morales began making a scene in Greenwich Village shortly before midnight on May 17 after a worker chastised him for urinating outside a restaurant. They say he responded by going inside, making anti-gay remarks and threatening to shoot diners.

Once outside, Morales encountered Carson, 32, and another man walking down the street and directed anti-gay slurs at them, authorities say. He followed the men around a corner and, after more insults, shot Carson in the head, prosecutors allege.

The slaying occurred a few blocks from the Stonewall Inn, the site of 1969 riots that helped give rise to the gay rights movement when patrons stood up to police harassment.

"This defendant is charged with targeting and gunning down Mark Carson on the streets of Greenwich Village because of his sexual orientation," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in announcing the charges. "Mr. Carson was murdered as he walked through a neighborhood that has long been a center of the gay rights movement and home to many LGBT New Yorkers, as well as a destination for LGBT visitors from around the globe."

Vance added: "Bias-related crimes have no place in New York City."

There was no immediate response to a phone message left Tuesday with Morales' attorney.

Morales is being held without bail.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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