Network buys rights to Shenandoah documentary, will make own to show with it
POTTSVILLE - Roberto Daza said he believes people should remember the Luis Ramirez case from Shenandoah, and he and his television network are taking steps to make sure that occurs.
"The documentary itself was very nicely done," Daza said Friday on a trip to Schuylkill County. "We kind of wanted to do a quick update."
Daza, 29, of Miami, a producer for the documentary unit of the Univision television network, traveled to Northeastern Pennsylvania to learn more about the case that was the talk of Schuylkill County, and provoked nationwide interest, since its start in 2008.
"I'd heard about the Ramirez case from the news," he said. "Recently, my interest was renewed when Fusion (a joint venture between ABC and Univision) bought the broadcast rights to the documentary. My network wanted an update on the film."
The 2012 documentary by photographer David C. Turnley, 58, of Ann Arbor, Mich., "Shenandoah: The Story of a Working Class Town and the American Dream on Trial," portrays the story of the trials of Derrick M. Donchak and Brandon J. Piekarsky, who are serving federal prison sentences for their roles in the fatal beating of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, 25, of Shenandoah.
Federal prosecutors charged that Donchak, 24, of Shenandoah, and Piekarsky, 22, of Shenandoah Heights, were two of the six youths who participated in the beating of Ramirez, an illegal immigrant, about 11:30 p.m. July 12, 2008, on West Lloyd Street near the Vine Street Park in Shenandoah.
Ramirez died of head injuries two days after the beating at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville. His case attracted national and international attention due to issues of race, ethnicity and illegal immigration.
After an eight-day trial, a jury in Scranton convicted each man Oct. 14, 2010, of violating Ramirez's rights under the federal Fair Housing Act, and also convicted Donchak of obstruction of justice.
On Feb. 23, 2011, Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, who presided over their trial, sentenced each man to serve nine years in a federal correctional institution. Donchak is serving his sentence at FCI/Otisville in New York, while Piekarsky is serving his at FCI/Beckley in West Virginia.
Donchak and Piekarsky had been tried in Schuylkill County Court for crimes arising from the same incident. After a five-day trial, a jury found them guilty on May 1, 2009, of simple assault and alcohol-related offenses, while acquitting them of more serious charges, including third-degree murder in Piekarsky's case.