Suspect in killing of gay US man pleads not guilty

A man accused of killing a gay man in a homophobic attack in a neighborhood that was the cradle of the American gay rights movement pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Elliot Morales, 33, is accused of second-degree murder as a hate crime and other offenses in the May 17 shooting of 32-year-old Mark Carson in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan.

Morales faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Before allegedly opening fire, Morales is said to have shouted homophobic slurs and made death threats against a friend of the victim.

"This young man's tragic death serves as a reminder of the discrimination that many of our family members, coworkers, and friends still face," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said.

Morales is also charged with five counts of criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of menacing, including one count of menacing a police officer.

The killing came as a shock to New York's gay community, not least because it happened in a neighborhood known for its tolerance and where the so-called "Stonewall riots" in 1969 sparked the modern gay rights movement.