By By MICHAEL VIRTANEN Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. December 11, 2012 (AP)
Street gangsters who commit assaults and killings are not terrorists under the statute enacted after hijackers crashed jets into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, New York's highest court ruled unanimously Tuesday.
There's no indication New York lawmakers passed the law to elevate gang-on-gang street violence to the status of terrorism, which carries tougher penalties, the Court of Appeals said. The court ordered a new trial for Edgar Morales, a member of the St. James Boys gang who was convicted of fatally shooting a 10-year-old bystander and paralyzing a rival gang member at a christening party.
Bronx prosecutors argued the gang sought to intimidate the entire Mexican-American community in the neighborhood. The anti-terrorism law applies to crimes committed with "intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population."
The six judges, agreeing with a midlevel court, concluded there was insufficient proof of that. They also said that prosecutors' terrorism theory, which allowed evidence of the gangs' alleged criminal acts over three years, probably prejudiced the jury.