US: ‘Hate filled’ killer of gay war veteran denied parole, still an ‘extreme danger’

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The killer of a gay man in Staten Island, New York, has been denied parole after 23 years in jail, after it was deemed by a parole board that his “brutal, merciless and hate-filled actions” make him unfit for society.

Michael Taylor, 43, was serving a 23-year-to-life sentence for the 1990 murder of James Zappalorti, a mentally disabled gay man, and Vietnam war veteran, reported The Staten Island Advance.

Zappalorti was stabbed to death by Taylor during a robbery in a secluded area near his parents’ home in Charleston, a neighbourhood of Staten Island.

Philip Sarlo was an accomplice to Taylor, and the pair attacked him, with the intent of robbing him, as he returned home from a nearby delicatessen.

Taylor later told authorities that he “didn’t like queers.” He stabbed the victim three times in the abdomen, took his money, and later entered his home and ransacked his bedroom.

On Friday, Taylor’s denial by the parole board read:

“Your brutal, merciless and hate-filled actions against your unarmed and restrained victim because of his sexual orientation … clearly demonstrates the extreme danger you pose to society.

“You acted in concert and targeted the victim … for robbery because you felt he was an ‘easy target’ because he was gay.

“You took his money, repeatedly stabbed him, causing his death, and then took his keys and burglarized his home which was occupied by his infirmed mother.”

Citing Taylor’s “poor disciplinary record” in prison, the board also cited “significant community opposition” to his release.

On Friday, Robert Zappalorti, the brother of the victim commented on the parole board’s decision.

“I strongly agree with it,” he said. “I’m happy he’s still in jail. As far as I’m concerned, he’s unrepentant.”

He said that Sarlo had apologised to the victim’s family upon sentencing, but that Taylor had not. Sarlo later died in prison, in 1997.

According to reports, Mr Zappalorti, who was 44, had been to a delicatessen to buy beer on 22 January 1990, when he encountered his killers.

After talking to them momentarily, Taylor, then 20,  threatened him with a hunting knife, and demanded that he hand over $200 (£125), which he believed the victim was carrying.

When the victim threw his wallet into some nearby weeds, Taylor became enraged and stabbed him three times. Taylor and Sarlo then took $40 (£25), and the keys to his parents’ home from the victim’s pockets, and hid his body.

They entered the home, ransacked his bedroom, and when confronted, they said they were waiting for him to return home.

Mr Zappalorti’s brother found the body the next morning.

Both of the accused pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and the crime was the first on Staten Island to be recorded as an anti-gay hate crime.

October 2014 is the next time Michael Taylor is able to apply for parole.