NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Three of the 11 alleged gang members charged with the vicious hate-filled beatings of two teens and two men in the Bronx have had the charges against them dropped, after the district attorney's office admitted there is insufficient evidence to prove their involvement.
Bryan Almonte and Brian Cepeda, both 17, and Steven Carabello, 16, had been charged with robbery, gang assault and unlawful imprisonment as hate crimes in the Oct. 3 attacks.
"After a thorough review of the evidence, there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt," Bronx Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb told Justice Steven Barrett on Tuesday.
Eight other people remain accused in the case, which city officials called the worst anti-gay attacks in recent history.Authorities said a loosely organized street crew known as the Latin King Goonies found out one of their recruits was gay - triggering a weekend rampage early this month.
First, authorities say, the gang members found the teen they suspected of being gay and repeatedly beat him and sodomized him until he admitted he's gay. They then sought out the 30-year-old neighborhood man they suspected of having sex with the young victim and tortured, beat, burned and sodomized him with a miniature baseball bat, according to reports.
They also allegedly went to the man's apartment to rob it and attacked his 40-year-old roommate, his brother.
The men also attacked a second teen they suspected was gay, prosecutors said.
Almonte, Cepeda and Carabello had been accused in that attack.
The beatings were part of a nationwide string of anti-gay attacks and teen suicides attributed to anti-gay bullying, including the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi after his homosexual tryst in his dorm room was broadcast online.