WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Jury selection began Monday in the trial of three former police officers who are charged with obstructing the investigation into the fatal beating of an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Prosecutors accuse former Shenandoah police Chief Matthew Nestor and two of his subordinates of orchestrating a cover-up that protected high school football players involved in the death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez.
The officers have pleaded not guilty.
Ramirez was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head as he fought with a group of white teenagers walking home from a block party late on July 12, 2008. Ramirez, a native of the small central Mexican town of Iramuco, died two days later of his injuries.
Two men who took part in the assault were convicted in October of a federal hate crime. Derrick Donchak, 20, and Brandon Piekarsky, 19, face a maximum of life in prison when they are sentenced later this month.
All three officers had close ties to the assailants.
Patrolman Jason Hayes dated Piekarsky's mother. Lt. William Moyer's son played with Piekarsky on the football team. Their commanding officer, Nestor, was a friend of Piekarsky's mother and vacationed with her, according to court documents.
The officers tried to "impede, obstruct and influence the investigation" into the beating death by tampering with evidence and witnesses or lying to the FBI, according to an indictment.
Hayes' attorney, Frank Nocito, said Monday that Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman may be called as a witness, according to the Republican-Herald of Pottsville.
Information from: Pottsville Republican-Herald, http://www.republicanherald.com
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