Gang Members Handed Five Life Sentences For Murder Of Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz
Five gang members have been handed life sentences for the murder of 15-year-old Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz.
Guzman-Feliz was reportedly dragged from a store and attacked with a machete and knives outside a Bronx deli, before being left to die on the pavement, in June 2018. At the time, it was said to be a case of ‘mistaken identity’, with the Chief of the NYPD describing the murder ‘among the most brutal crimes’ he’d ever seen.
Yesterday, October 11, 2019, a Bronx judge handed down sentences to five people involved in the murder, including members of the Trinitarios gang.
According to the New York Post, Judge Robert Neary sent 25-year-old Jonaiki Martinez Estrella to prison for life without the possibility of parole. CCTV footage from the crime apparently shows it was Estrella who inflicted the fatal knife wounds.
Handing him the sentence, Judge Neary said:
Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement. Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often comes to my mind is cowardly.
You and your fellow gang members chased down and slaughtered a 15-year-old, defenseless boy in the most gruesome manner and we in this courtroom had the misfortune of witnessing it on tape.
Neary reportedly called Estrella the ‘executioner’, saying: ‘You destroyed a young life, condemned his family and yours to a lifetime of pain and despair.’
Before being given the sentence, Spanish-speaking Estrella said, through a translator: ‘First of all, I want to say sorry to his family and ask forgiveness.’ However, he was reportedly cut off by someone in the courtroom yelling ‘Bullsh*t.’
Estrella, who claimed to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time, continued: ‘My intention was not to cause the death of this kid or cause injuries that would end up in the loss of his life.’
However, Judge Neary said Estrella’s remorse ‘rings a little hollow this late in the game’.
In fact, photos from the court room appear to show Estrella, along with 23-year-old Jose Muniz, smirking and holding up ‘gang signs’ for the camera.
Muniz, along with co-defendants Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, 25, and Elvin Garcia, 25, were each given a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. While 19-year-old co-defendant Manuel Rivera was sentenced to 23 years.
Muniz said to the court: ‘I do not know what it’s like to lose a child. But from the bottom of my heart, I ask that you can forgive me.’
Judge Neary told Muniz:
You disgraced your own family. I’m not sure the remorse you expressed is genuine. I’m not sure about that because it’s the first time I’m hearing about it… you threw your future in the garbage.
The Judge also said it was ‘troubling’ to hear Muniz shout ‘Popote, hasta la muerte’ or ‘Trinitarios until death’ at the court when he was convicted in June.
In a victim impact statement, Guzman-Feliz’s mother said two people died the night her son was murdered: ‘Junior and I, who was left dead inside.’ She added: ‘They killed an innocent child… This group of evil criminals using their gang-related activities decided to go out and kill. These actions were all captured on camera leaving millions of people devastated.’
Guzman-Feliz’s mother said her son was in the NYPD’s Explorer’s programme, and he ‘dreamed of becoming a detective so can protect this city,’ before adding: ‘Unfortunately, his dream was crushed by these dangerous gang members.’
Guzman-Feliz’s father said: ‘I will never forgive you for deciding to murder my son. You deserved to be punished to the fullest extent of the law… My hope is that you will never have a chance to hurt another child in the way you hurt mine.’
Eight other defendants involved in the case are still awaiting trial.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
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