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New York City man pleads guilty to hate crime in death of Asian man, district attorney says

<i>Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis News/Getty Images/FILE</i><br/>A memorial vigil is held for Yao Pan Ma on the street corner where he was beaten
Corbis via Getty Images
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis News/Getty Images/FILE
A memorial vigil is held for Yao Pan Ma on the street corner where he was beaten

By Rob Frehse and Alaa Elassar, CNN

More than a year after an Asian man died after being assaulted in New York City, Jarrod Powell pleaded guilty in his death and will serve 22 years in prison, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Powell, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime as part of a plea deal, the district attorney’s office said.

In April 2021, Yao Pan Ma was collecting cans when he was approached from behind on an East Harlem corner, struck in the back and, after he fell to the ground, kicked in the head multiple times, according to police.

Ma, who was Chinese-American, was unresponsive and in a state of unconsciousness since being admitted to a hospital to be treated for his head injuries. He died from his injuries eight months after the attack, on December 31, 2021.

“This unprovoked attack took the life of Yao Pan Ma and took away a sense of security for so many in the AAPI community in New York,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said after the plea. “Jarrod Powell attacked Mr. Ma because of his race and is now being held accountable. My thoughts are with Mr. Ma’s family and friends as they continue to mourn this loss.”

Powell’s attorney, Liam Malanaphy, declined CNN’s request for comment.

Powell “admitted in his plea to this hate crime” that he targeted Ma because he was Asian, according to the district attorney’s office.

The attack came amid a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans that prompted the New York Police Department to deploy undercover Asian officers on the streets in an attempt to stem the violence.

Reported hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the nation’s largest cities and counties rose 164% in 2021, according to a study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says it has 44 open cases related to anti-Asian hate crimes as of January 2023.

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