Washington, Oct. 1 (PTI): A jury has convicted a man of first degree murder for killing an Indian immigrant after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
Frank Silva Roque, who assumed a turbaned Balbir Singh Sodhi to be an Arab terrorist and shot him outside his petrol pump on September 15, may get the death penalty.
The jury, which began the hearing on Monday in Arizona, also found Roque guilty of attempted murder, drive-by shooting and endangerment for two other racially-motivated attacks.
Roque’s lawyers argued that he was insane at the time of the shooting and had suffered from mental illness his entire life.
The defence lawyers, however, contended that Roque did not start using racial slurs until the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Prosecutor Vince Imbordino argued that Roque was motivated by anger and hatred, not insanity. He noted that Roque had practiced shooting and reloading before killing Sodhi in Arizona.
After shooting Sodhi, Roque shot at another gas station where the clerk was a man of Lebanese descent and later opened fire at the home of an Afghan family.
No one was hurt in these incidents.
After Roque’s conviction, Sodhi’s brother Lakhwinder Singh Sodhi said: “The verdict sent a message about hate crimes.”
He added: “America wants justice. We showed the world we can’t have hate crimes in our community.”