NYC man pleads guilty to hate crime killing of elderly Asian man

Yao Pan Ma suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for eight months before dying on December 31, 2021.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Thursday, a 51-year-old New York man pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime in connection to the brutal killing of 61-year-old Yao Pan Ma in April of 2021.

Jarrod Powell ran up to Ma at around 8:15 pm on April 23, 2021, and struck him from behind, knocking him to the ground, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s Office. While Ma was on the ground, Powell stomped on Ma’s head "multiple times" and kicked him in the head, face, and neck repeatedly.

Powell fled the scene as Ma, who had been on the corner of 125th Street and 3rd Avenue picking up cans to help pay for rent, lay injured, according to NBC News.

An MTA bus driver witnessed the attack and flagged down a nearby ambulance for assistance. Ma was transported to Harlem Hospital, where he was treated for bleeding on the brain and facial fractures.

Ma suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for eight months before dying on December 31, 2021.

Powell was arrested on April 27, 2021, four days after the attack, being finally apprehended after he was identified through video surveillance. 

In Powell’s guilty plea, Bragg’s office stated that he admitted to attacking Ma because he was Asian.

Bragg’s office announced that Powell is expected to be sentenced to 22 years in prison a 5 years post-release supervision. His sentencing is scheduled for March 9, 2023.

"This unprovoked attack took the life of Yao Pan Ma and took away a sense of security for so many in the AAPI community in New York," said District Attorney Bragg. "Jarrod Powell attacked Mr. Ma because of his race and is now being held accountable. My thoughts are with Mr. Ma’s family and friends as they continue to mourn this loss."

Family spokesperson Karlin Chan told the Associated Press that the family approved of the plea agreement.

"While this will not bring back Mr. Yao Pan Ma, it is a significant sentence that we can accept,” Chan said, who added that the plea deal saves the family from going through a painful trial.

Chan said that Ma and his wife immigrated to the US in October 2018 from China. Ma and his wife both lost their jobs during the 2020 pandemic and began collecting cans and bottles to return for funds.


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