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'Blond Hair' A Murder Motive

A homeless convicted rapist who told police he stabbed a woman to death because she was white was convicted Tuesday of murder as a hate crime.

Jurors found Phillip Grant guilty of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Grant, who is black, had admitted killing Concetta Russo-Carriero, 56, last June in a mall parking garage.

"As long as she had blond hair and blue eyes, she had to die," Grant said on a videotaped statement to police, which was shown at the trial. "I have no remorse whatsoever because she was white."

Grant, 44, displayed no emotion as the verdict was read. In the gallery, the victim's family exchanged hugs and kisses.

"Although it won't bring Connie back and that's devastating, at least Mr. Grant will never be able to commit such a heinous crime again against such a beautiful woman," said the victim's cousin, Vincent Scala.

Grant faces a sentence of 20 years to life to a hearing Sept. 11.

Defense lawyer Eugene Traynor had argued that Grant's videotaped confession should not be believed because he also confessed to crimes that may never have occurred. The lawyer told jurors the tape was "an unreliable mess" that showed Grant to be paranoid and delusional.

Traynor also argued that Grant was not properly advised of his rights before confessing and said he would appeal. "The confession was unconstitutionally obtained," Traynor said.

Grant had completed his maximum sentence for a rape conviction and had refused mental-health treatment offered at homeless shelters. He was arrested within minutes of the attack.

The case has spurred calls for a civil commitment law to keep violent sex offenders off the streets even after their time is served.
JIM FITZGERALD

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