It took Jose Colon more than 30 years to die from complications of the gunshot wounds that paralyzed him. On Friday, his assailant was charged with murder for pulling the trigger in the racial dispute killed Colon decades after the bullets entered his body.
The case stems from a medical examiner's ruling that Colon, 47, died from infections related to gunshot wounds suffered at age 15. The shooting had left Colon paralyzed from the neck down. Ralph Alini, who had already served a three-year prison term for the shooting, was rearrested on Thursday after a grand jury indicted him on a second-degree murder charge earlier in the week. He was ordered held without bail at his arraignment on Friday in Brooklyn.
Authorities said the shooting occurred during a racially charged clash between Hispanics and Italians on June 27, 1973 in the Park Slope section. Alini, now 54, an Italian American, allegedly fired his gun from a rooftop into a crowd and struck Colon, who was Puerto Rican. Alini and a second suspect were arrested and charged with attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment.
A jury convicted both men in 1974. But the verdict was overturned by an appeals court that ruled the trial judge had erred by allowing one attorney to represent both defendants. Instead of retrying the case, the Brooklyn district attorney's office offered to let the men plead guilty to reckless endangerment in 1978 and serve a three-year sentence. The second defendant was killed in 1980s in an unsolved homicide, authorities said.
On Friday, prosecutors successfully argued against bail for Alini, saying he had a significant criminal record, and that he had admitted being the shooter during his earlier plea, AP reports.