Immigration

Trial underway for former Shenandoah policemen accused in cover-up of beating death of immigrant

Trial underway for former Shenandoah policemen accused in cover-up of beating death of immigrant

LatinaLista -- Regular readers of Latina Lista will remember the special series published last year regarding the hate crime trial of the two young men from Shenandoah, PA who beat to death undocumented immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala.

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The two boys, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, were found guilty and are still awaiting sentencing.

(L-R) Matthew R. Nestor, Jason Hayes and William Moyer.

Yet, these two boys weren't the only ones charged with a crime in relation to Ramirez Zavala's death. Three of the most unlikely suspects are now on trial in Wilkes-Barre, PA -- former Shenandoah police officers Matthew R. Nestor, William Moyer and Jason Hayes.

Nestor who was Chief of Police, Moyer who was a lieutenant and Hayes who was an officer are now facing federal charges for allegedly obstructing the investigation of the July 12, 2008, beating of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala. Moyer has also been charged with witness and evidence tampering, and with lying to the FBI.

If convicted, the defendants face 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges and an additional five years in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice. Moyer faces an additional five years in prison for making false statements to the FBI.

It seems Hayes had a personal connection to the case -- he was dating the mother of Brandon Piekarsky. The two are now engaged.

Since beginning earlier this month, the trial has been interrupted by numerous snow storms that have hit the Northeast. However, multimedia journalist, Gustavo Martinez, has been in court every day its in session and has been regularly filing bilingual posts, podcasts, and Twitter feeds of the proceedings.

While the testimony has been so far pretty uneventful, Martinez did encounter someone at the trial who enlightened the reporter that Shenandoah has a murky history when it comes to how it treats immigrants.

Attending the trial is attorney Joe Walsh. Walsh represents another immigrant that died in Shenandoah under mysterious circumstances. He's at the trial to see if anything might be revealed that could help his case which starts in June.

According to Walsh, Nestor and another former Shenandoah officer are accused of beating to death a man by the name of David Vega on November 28, 2004 while he was in their custody. Walsh alleges that both these officers then tried to make it look like Vega committed suicide.

If that wasn't enough, the former Shenandoah Chief of Police is also accused of extortion and civil rights violations in separate cases and will find himself in court throughout the year.

Weather permitting, the trial should wrap up early next week.

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