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Detroit — A man will spend up to 20 years in prison Wednesday after being sentenced in the murder and burning of a gay man in southwest Detroit in 2013, prosecutors say.

Hameer Alkotait accepted a plea agreement on second-degree murder. Judge Michael Hathaway sentenced Alkotait to 18-20 years in prison in connection to the murder of Gabino Rodriguez. 

Alkotait's co-defendant, Andrew Czarnecki, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he was found guilty by trial in December 2018

Alkotait and Czarnecki targeted Rodriguez for robbery because he was gay, prosecutors said. During the robbery, Alkotait and Czarnecki savagely beat and strangled Gambino, and then burned his body beyond recognition in a field in southwest Detroit.

The cases were prosecuted by Jaimie Powell Horowitz of the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a collaboration between the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation. The project assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said after six years, she's joyous to see justice served for the Rodriguez family.

"These cold-case murder convictions resulted from Detective Kevin Wight and the Detroit Police Department’s tenacious investigation of this brutal crime, and Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz’s determined prosecutions," Maguire said in a statement. "We are grateful for their efforts, and we are committed to continue the fight for justice for the LGBTQ community in Wayne County."

srahal@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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