Queens man charged with hate crime over deadly Labor Day stabbing

A 51-year-old man faces murder as a hate crime and other charges for allegedly stabbing a 20-year-old Brooklyn man to death on Labor Day. 

According to authorities, on September 7, James Williams was sitting on the same bench as Massiah Berkley on a pathway off Beach 20th Street in Far Rockaway, Queens. Williams allegedly used a homophobic slur against Berkley , which caused a confrontation.  It ended with Williams allegedly pulling out a knife and stabbing Berkley in the chest and the back of the head.

Police found Berkley lying face-up on the ground and bleeding. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died from his injuries. Williams was arrested a short time later near the scene of the attack.

Williams, of Far Rockaway, is scheduled to be arraigned on September 29 and has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon in the third and fourth degree, and tampering with evidence

If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

“The defendant’s own words allegedly reveal that his bigoted perceptions sparked this deadly attack. Violence is never an acceptable option, but violence spurred by hate and prejudice is uniquely abhorrent and will always be prosecuted by this office to the fullest extent of the law,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.

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