‘Junior’ Guzman Verdict: 5 Trinitarios Sentenced to Life in Hacking of Teen
Captured on video, the grisly killing of the 15-year-old boy last year outside a Bronx bodega in a case of mistaken identity shocked the city.
The killing, captured on video, rattled New Yorkers like few in recent memory: A 15-year-old boy frantically ran into a deli and begged a clerk to let him hide behind the counter. Members of the Trinitarios gang charged in and dragged the teenager out onto the sidewalk, where they hacked him with knives.
The boy ran toward a nearby hospital, but collapsed and bled to death before he could get help. The police later determined that the gang members had mistaken the teenager for someone else.
On Friday, five of the men seen on the video attacking the youth, Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, known as Junior, were sentenced to life in prison in a Bronx courtroom, after being convicted of murder and gang assault in June.
Justice Robert A. Neary called the killing “senseless,” “savage” and “cowardly” as he sentenced the first defendant, Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 25, who prosecutors said had struck the fatal blow. “Why?” the judge said. “To be held as a big shot in a gang? I am not sure you sense the magnitude of what you’ve done.”
Before Justice Neary handed down the sentences, Lesandro’s parents gave emotional speeches describing their loss. “That night, there were two deaths: Junior and I, who was left dead inside,” his mother, Leandra Feliz, said. “If it were up to me, I would sentence these murderers to 300 years in prison.”
Lesandro was walking alone at about 11:40 p.m. on June 20, 2018, in the Belmont section of the Bronx, looking at his phone, when he was accosted by several members of the Los Surés faction of the Trinitarios. The gang had been hunting for enemies and thought Lesandro was a member of a rival group, according to trial testimony.
The men chased Lesandro for blocks, catching up to him as he tried to hide inside the Cruz and Chiky Grocery, a bodega at East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue.
The gruesome murder a few minutes later prompted outrage on social media and calls for justice from elected officials and celebrities, including the rapper Cardi B and the Yankees pitcher C. C. Sabathia. Hundreds of people attended Lesandro’s funeral.