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BENSONHURST DEFENDANT ACQUITTED ON KEY COUNTS

In the second major setback in three days for prosecutors in the Bensonhurst racial attack, John Vento, 22, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the 1989 slaying of black teen-ager Yusuf Hawkins.

A State Supreme Court jury convicted the defendant Thursday only of riot, which carries a maximum term of four years in prison. Vento was sentenced to eight years in prison on his July conviction for unlawful imprisonment and menacing. He was acquitted of intentional murder, and the jury deadlocked on the second murder count and riot.

Two other young white men were found innocent Tuesday of murder and all other serious crimes for their alleged roles in the attack.

Prosecutors did not say Vento shot Hawkins but maintained that in helping corner Hawkins, he acted in concert with the shooter and was equally guilty of murder.

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