Far Rockaway man indicted on hate crime charge for fatal Labor Day stabbing: DA

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A Far Rockaway man has been indicted for a Labor Day hate crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

James Williams, 51, of New Haven Avenue, was indicted by a Queens County grand jury on murder as a hate crime and other charges for allegedly stabbing a 20-year-old Brooklyn man to death. Williams is accused of using a homophobic slur before plunging the knife into the victim’s chest.

Williams will be arraigned Sept. 29 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter on a five-count indictment charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime and other charges. If convicted, Williams faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

According to the charges, on the afternoon of Sept. 7, Williams and Massiah Berkley sat on the same bench on a pathway off Beach 20th Street in Far Rockaway when he allegedly called the victim a “f—-t,” which led to a confrontation that ended with Williams allegedly pulling out a knife and stabbing the victim in the chest and the back of the head.

Police responding to reports of a flight shortly after 3:55 p.m. found the Brownsville, Brooklyn man lying face up and bleeding from the chest. Berkley was rushed to a nearby hospital but died from his injuries.

Williams was apprehended near the scene a short time after the attack, according to the DA.

“The defendant’s own words allegedly reveal that his bigotted perceptions sparked this deadly attack,” Katz said. “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.”