Man charged with North Bergen attempted murder for beating WNY man he suspected of being gay

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A Maryland man has been charged with attempted murder and several other crimes for severely beating a West New York man he suspected of being gay at James J. Braddock Park in North Bergen, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

José Tobias Carranza Serrano, also known as “Kevin Lopez,” 18, of Baltimore, MD, was arrested on June 23rd.

He was charged by complaint with the first-degree crimes of attempted homicide, bias intimidation, and robbery, as well as second-degree aggravated assault.

Carranza Serrano was charged as the result of an investigation by the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and Division of Criminal Justice, assisted by the North Bergen, Hoboken, and Bayonne Police Departments.

He is currently being held in the Hudson County Correctional Facility pending a detention hearing.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 22nd, Carranza Serrano allegedly attacked the victim near the south end of the lake at Braddock Park. The investigation revealed that the victim was a stranger whom Carranza Serrano had just met.

Carranza Serrano allegedly wanted to kill the victim because he suspected the victim was gay, punching and kicking him in the face, causing multiple fractures and knocking out several teeth.

He also allegedly attempted to strangle the victim before taking a smart phone and $8 in cash from the victim. The victim was found unconscious near the path around the lake by a passerby shortly before 5 a.m. on June 22.

“This defendant is charged with attempting to kill a complete stranger because he thought the man was gay,” Grewal said in a statement.

“The victim was beaten and choked so badly that he was unconscious for several hours before a passerby found him and called for help. Whether this type of hate-fueled violence is directed against the LGBTQ+ community or other groups, it is terribly destructive to society and we must push back against it in every way possible. That, of course, includes aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who commit such crimes.”

The case is being prosecuted jointly by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Deputy Attorney General Danielle Scarduzio is assigned to prosecute the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and Acting DCJ Director Annmarie Taggart. Detectives Samer Abboud and Brian Christensen are assigned to the case for the DCJ Bias Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Lt. Michael Fallon, Deputy Chief of Detectives Robert Stemmer, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell.

Grewal thanked the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, under the leadership of Sheriff Frank X. Schillari, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Esther Suarez, and the North Bergen, Hoboken, and Bayonne Police Departments.

The first-degree bias intimidation charge carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison.

Additionally, the attempted murder charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, with parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison.