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On Wednesday, March 6, Hammer Alkotait was handed a sentence of 18 to 20 years in prison after a plea agreement convicting him of the second-degree murder of Gabino Rodriguez.
The Detroit man, who was targeted in 2013 for robbery because he was gay, was reported missing when he didn’t return home after work. A witness at the preliminary examination testified that two men – Alkotait and his co-defendant, Andrew Czarnecki – admitted their plan to rob the victim of his vehicle. According to the testimony of Robert Bonas, the defendants stabbed the victim with a screwdriver and Alkotait used a chain to pull the victim to the ground. Both men beat the victim with their hands and a metal rim and stomped on him until he stopped moving.
Bonas stated that Czarnecki admitted to wrapping the body in a sheet and driving to a vacant field in Southwest Detroit where the men covered the body in lighter fluid and set it ablaze. His body was later identified through dental records.
The case, which initially went cold, was brought to the Fair Michigan Justice Project by Detective Kevin Wight of the Detroit Police Department’s homicide unit.
Czarnecki had already been sentenced to life in prison without parole after a trial in December 2018.
“After six long years, justice has finally been attained for the family of Gabino Rodriguez,” said Alanna Maguire, Fair Michigan president.
The case against both defendants was prosecuted by FMJP’s Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz.