[Hpn] NJ Teens: Beat Man 'For No Reason'

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 26 Jun 2001 17:52:57 -0700


Tuesday June 26 1:47 PM ET

Teens: Beat Man 'For No Reason'

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) - Teen-agers charged with killing a homeless man during
a rampage last week told investigators they beat their victim ``for no
reason'' but didn't intend to kill him, according to testimony Tuesday.

``I am sorry that a man had to die today because people wanted a fight
today, but no one wanted to kill anyone, that's for sure,'' one teen told
investigators, according to Detective Manuel Hernandez.

Hector Robles, 42, was attacked last Wednesday, shortly after police broke
up a fight between blacks and Hispanics at a nearby high school. Witnesses
told police he was swarmed by black teen-agers who took his beer bottle and
smashed his head with it before beating him to death.

Eleven boys, ages 15 to 17, were arrested, charged with murder and robbery
and held without bail pending Tuesday's hearing in family court.

About half the teens had appeared by noon Tuesday, when a recess was called.
The teens did not testify themselves. Police officers read from the
statements the boys gave investigators.

One teen was asked why the group continued kicking and punching Robles.

``For no reason,'' replied the youth, who admitted punching the man in the
head, according to police. ``He was laid out. It was just people stomping
him when he fell down.''

A third teen thought he recognized the victim, prompting the group to go
through his pockets looking for drugs, Hernandez said.

Workers from a nearby business, who had befriended Robles, rushed to his
aid, but he died a short time later.

Robles had spent most of the last 15 years hanging out at the Electronic
Transformer Co., chatting and joking with workers who considered him family.

``He was screaming, `Oh! Oh!' and moaning,'' said Nathaniel Washington, a
shipping clerk. ``We all heard it, and ran out to his aid.'' Robles died
shortly afterward.

The case shocked New Jersey's third-largest city, a once-thriving
manufacturing community 15 miles west of New York. Nearly 100 people visited
the beating site Sunday for a candlelight ceremony.

Prosecutor Bob Corrado said his office doesn't believe racial bias was a
motive. ``From what we've gotten, it hasn't even been mentioned,'' he said.

Hispanics account for about half of the 149,000 residents, while blacks make
up about a third.

``For the most part, people get along pretty well,'' city spokesman Bob
Grant said. 

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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