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SECOND SUSPECT ARRESTED IN BEATING, STOMPING DEATH OF CHEEKTOWAGA MAN

A second suspect was arrested Thursday in the October beating and stomping death of Gary Trzaska.

Dennis Straughter, 19, of Laurel Street was taken into custody at his attorney's office, according to police Capt. Joseph Riga, Homicide Bureau chief. Straughter had been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder. He is being held in the city lockup pending arraignment this morning.

His was the second arrest following the death of the 41-year-old Cheektowaga resident after he was attacked on Broadway, near Titus Avenue, the night of Oct. 2. Police said three attackers were seen laughing and exchanging high-fives during the assault.

Arrested nearby shortly after the attack was William M. Nance, 17, of Miller Avenue.

The third attacker remains at large; Riga declined to comment Thursday on the continuing investigation.

Because the assailants were black and Trzaska was white -- and gay, questions have been raised on whether the attack constituted a hate crime, as defined by federal law.

Buffalo police have said they do not believe so. They have said they believe Trzaska's attackers singled him out for no other reason than that he crossed their path at a particular moment.

But the FBI still is considering the question, leaving the door open on a possible federal investigation of the crime.

"The determination hasn't been made as to whether or not that particular incident involved what we would term a 'hate crime,' " Special Agent Paul Moskal, an FBI spokesman, said Thursday evening.

A hate crime conviction results in stiffer federal penalties than those provided by various states. New York has not enacted hate crime legislation.

The FBI needs to determine whether the crime was the result of a "preformed, negative bias against persons, property or organizations based solely on race, religion, ethnicity or national origin, sexual orientation or disability," Moskal said.

"It will take awhile to sort that out," he said.

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