For One Grieving Mother, Time Doesn’t Heal

Altagracia Mayi says her struggle will not end until she has justice for her son. (Photo by Archivo Humberto Arellano / EDLP)

On March 29, 1991, an 18-year-old Dominican American, Manuel Mayi, died after he was beaten with baseball bats by a mob of white youths in the Corona, Queens. Altagracia Mayí, his mother, is still fighting for justice, two decades later. Below is a translation of an article in Spanish on her struggle in an El Diario La Prensa

Twenty-one years have gone by since the brutal murder of Manuel Mayí at the hands of a group of white youths, but Manuel’s mother, Altagracia Mayí, said the wound in her heart will not heal, as long as the justice system doesn’t punish those responsible.

“My struggle continues,” said Mayí. Despite the passage of time, she still weeps inconsolably for her son’s death, as if it had just happened today. Manuel died on March 29th, 1991.

Manuel – at the time 18 years old – was chased for 16 blocks in an area of Corona, Queens, and when the young men that were chasing him finally caught up to him, they beat him with baseball bats that fractured his cranium and other parts of his body.

According to Mayí, who is of Dominican heritage, “The authorities haven’t done enough.” She pointed out that three witnesses who are crucial to the case did not give testimony during the trial – where only one defendant was charged – because they were minors at the time.

Those witnesses could provide “real evidence,” Mayí said. She accused the authorities of not seeking that testimony because, she maintained, “this is a cover-up case.”

“They are always saying that they are making an effort, but up until now, one doesn’t know when they’re going to solve it,” said Mayí.

Only one of the three youths that were arrested in 1991, Joseph Celso, was brought to trial, and the jury exonerated him.

“I feel sad and powerless because those men that killed my son continue to live their lives unpunished,” Mayí said. “Although the authorities know who the perpetrators were, they don’t do anything to bring them to justice.”

The New York City Police Department office of public information said that “the Department has used all available resources and has done all that it can, including DNA tests, as well as continuing to interview witnesses. The investigation is still ongoing.”

Richard Brown, the Queens district attorney, said that over the years, “We have worked in close collaboration with the police department in an effort to identify other perpetrators in this crime.” Brown said that his office was able to reopen the archives of the case.

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