My client, age 18 (and nine months, as the prosecutor liked to remind jurors), had joined a dangerous gang, the Trinitarios, and without the benefit of his mother, left behind in the Dominican Republic, made some very poor decisions that will now land him in jail probably for the rest of his life. But I understand why the People adopted the Junior-as-saint story. Dr. Sophia Rodriguez from the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed Juniors autopsy and testified that the more than 4-inch deep wound was caused by a single-edge knife or blade. Mr. Reyes testified that Lesandro responded by raising his hand and saying Que lo siete, which Mr. Reyes said signaled that the teenager was a Sunset member. (Jefferson Siegel/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS). That isgonna stick with this jury for the rest of the weekend, he says. ), It was shared millions of times on social media and in the general press. After Junior was stabbed outside the Bronx bodega, he is seen in surveillance video clutching his neck and attempting to run to the nearby hospital, where he eventually collapsed on a sidewalk and bled to death. MORE: Justice for Junior Special: More than a Murder They carried weapons for two reasons for their own protection and to use them to hurt (not kill) a Sunset. The friend says they felt things were getting dicey and went inside. Junior rushes into this bodega just one block from his home. Lets continue to examine why so many youths, particularly from inner cities, are attracted to the brutality of gangs. The ADA's argument also included graphic autopsy photos including the slit on Junior's neck the medical examiner says killed him. Surveillance footage from June shows a street chase by suspected members of the Trinitarios gang, as they hunted down 15-year-old Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz. WNBC reported that the . Police had seized the footage that night and it got leaked. Juniors mother Leandra Guzman had to be escorted from the courtroom last week when she began screaming and shaking after viewing gruesome footage of her son being attacked by a group of alleged gangbangers. We dont know. New surveillance footage shows the moments before and after Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz was brutally jumped and stabbed to death. In a photo obtained by The Post, a smiling Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, wears an NYPD Explorers jacket proudly as he looks at the camera. Members of the Police Departments Law Enforcement Explorers program attending a memorial for Lesandro last year. We interviewed our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, to learn more about accessible smart home devices. JOLIET, Ill. (AP) A Chicago-area toddler was hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday after finding an unsecured gun and shooting himself in the head, police said. ", "It was a terrible year, it felt like 10 years. The New York Post ran a front-page headline in bold caps,. But Reyes told the court that he couldnt follow through with Sueros order after looking Junior in the face. Frederick Then was arrested in 2018 in connection with Lesandros death. Several of the gang members got out of the cars and surrounded Lesandro, asking him questions. An order had come from Mr. Suero, he said: Go after Sunset you already know what you have to do., Mr. Reyes said he understood that to be an order to do any kind of damage. The medical examiner testified the wounds on his back and legs were consistent with being dragged. The trial, now in its fourth week, has been checkered with drama, with Juniors mom at one point screaming and sobbing in court in response to grisly CCTV footage shown of her sons murder. In recent months, turf wars have spiked among rival Trinitario factions. Prosecutors introduced three clips of video. Also consider other hobbies. The teen reportedly bled to death steps from the emergency room. "A bright, beloved, athletic, soon-to . The teen reportedly bled to death steps from the emergency room. Sofia Henry also testified Thursday, telling jurors about photos she took on the night of the incident. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole on the murder conviction. A dozen alleged gang members were indicted July 18, with five charged with first degree murder, which includes torture, for the June 20 death of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz and could face life in prison without parole. This 15-year-old boy, moments before death, fought like hell to get away, said Dolan. The convicted killers will be sentenced Tuesday, July 16. The vicious murder in June of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz just blocks from his Bronx home drew outrage from across the city and beyond. Copyright 2023 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Except thats not what happened. After the verdict, Mr. Muniz showed no remorse and shouted, Popote, hasta la muerte! slang for Trinitarios until death.. The defense also tried to discredit Guzman-Feliz alleging he was in a gang photo a notion a detective who took the stand denied. We've received your submission. Martin Goldberg, defense attorney for Jose Muniz who once cried in court during his arraignment said his client was made the poster boy for Juniors horrific death, because Muniz was seen carrying a machete. What is the derivation of this distorted quest for manhood and meaning? His understanding, as was everyones, was that the group was ordered to physically harm (not kill) any Sunset they found. Video footage was released on social media that showed the murder. At least eight other men are on the lookout some, armed with knives. That wound was inflicted by one defendant alone, Mr. Estrella. Carrion says the testimony that all of the other wounds were superficial and did not cause Juniors death may not help the defense as much as theyd like. Prosecutors say that Jonaiki Martinez gave the fatal stab, slashing Juniors neck. But Morgan Dolan, the lead prosecutor, countered that weapons like knives and machetes kill and the gang members went in knowing that.. In opening statements, prosecutors described the teen's killing as a calculated and planned murder by the five suspects. The only injury that caused Juniors death was clearly the neck wound. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon "It was just starting," he said. Last Friday, five men were convicted of murder in the first degree for the killing of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman Feliz in June 2018. Anyone can read what you share. The New York Post ran a front-page headline in bold caps, MACHETE MONSTERS GUILTY.. Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who went by the nickname Junior, was a member of the Police Department's Law Enforcement Explorers program before he was killed last year. Mr. Sueros trial is expected to start soon. According to . Mr. Alvarez, Mr. Reyes and a third man went into the store and asked the owner and workers to let them take Lesandro. We talked to police sources, family members and other witnesses. Manuel enjoyed the Trinitarios parties, the hookah, the beads, the hand signs, the comradery, and fact that they had his back. Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. During closing arguments, some jurors were seen crying as autopsy photos were displayed. The knife made it from the right side to the left, hit the muscle, hit the (jugular) vein, went behind the throat, hit the tissue on the back side of the mouth, Dr. Rodriguez said. I didnt see the kid., 5 Convicted of Hacking Innocent Teenager Junior Guzman to Death, Following that, no amount of logic, analysis, or pleas for reason could convince jurors to set aside their emotions. As one defense counsel said in his summation, the biggest obstacle in this case for defendants was not the facts, it was the anger and the desire for retribution., The video of the killing was released to social media only hours after Juniors death. The referrals are a nice bonus too! Warning: Details of Fridays testimony are graphic in nature and may be disturbing to some. The 2-year-old boy was shot around 12:16 p.m . (No one claims responsibility.) Kevin Alvarez, third from left, and Elvin Garcia, both members of the Trinitarios gang, appearing before a judge in 2018. He felt cool. The dad struggled to make a living and Manuel struggled in school. Putting four young men in jail for life for a murder they didnt intend (each was either running away, or nowhere near Junior when Estrella inflicted the fatal wound) should thrill no one. Is that why Junior was targeted? This Aint One Of Them: Get to figuring your way around AI sooner rather than later. Five more gang members pleaded guilty in the brutal machete stabbing death of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz inside a Bronx bodega in 2018. Prosecutors showed jurors an autopsy photo showing the lethal wound to the neck of Lesandro Junior Guzman-Feliz. Registration or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Does An In Depth Analysis Predicting SCOTUS Decisions Help You Wind Down? If they did not participate, the lawyers said, they would have been disciplined. Defense lawyers for the four other defendants said in their closing arguments that the order from Mr. Suero had only been to injure a Sunset member, not to kill someone. After Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Fernandez pulled the boy outside, the others attacked. But the owner appears to direct him away. Also consider other hobbies. Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz, 15, was dragged out of the Cruz and Chiky Grocery bodega at E. 183rd St. and Bathgate Ave in the Belmont neighborhood on Wednesday night. Select from premium Lesandro of the highest quality. He believed hed found a place to belong. What Better Place To Network Than The Facebook Friends List? WPIX reported that theyre charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, gang assault, and conspiracy. The knife used to deliver the lethal blow to Lesandro Junior Guzman Feliz last June 20 went clear through the teens neck, causing him to bleed to death, the medical examiner, Dr. Sophia Rodriguez, testified. At least 10 other people have been maimed this summer in tit-for-tat attacks in the Bronx. At around 11:30, Junior leaves, and two minutes later security cameras catch him on this corner passing near his home. But it was Mr. Martinez Estrella who delivered the fatal blow when he shoved a large knife into the side of Lesandros neck, penetrating 4.5 inches and cutting his jugular vein, a medical examiner testified. They probablywon't forget itfor the rest of their lives.. Instead, he said, he watched as other Trinitarios members dragged Junior outside and hacked him to death with machetes and knives. Justice for Junior Special: More than a Murder, Defense hammers key witness on role in 'Junior' death. Fourteen men have been criminally charged in connection with Guzman-Felizs slaying. Friends and family told us that Junior wasnt in a gang and the police have no such indication, either. She said she watched the attack from an apartment window and ran downstairs to try to help. Even as the evidence demonstrated that Junior was killed by only one man, Janaki Estrella-Martinez, the false narrative had taken hold and all five defendants were convicted of the highest crime in New York State murder by torture. Understanding Big Law: A Must-Read Guide To One Of The Most Challenging Workplaces In The World Is Now Available. She used her summation to show the jury the boys final moments repeatedly, slowing it down to show each defendants actions. The medical examiner testified she was a lumper a doctor who looks to combine injuries and conclude that they all might have contributed to death. Surveillance video shows Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz being dragged out and then hacked to death by five men with machetes on June 20, 2018, in the Bronx. What could be put in place in their neighborhoods to substitute the pull of the gang? He leaves and immediately three other men enter. was brutally jumped and stabbed to death. By submitting your email to receive this newsletter, you agree to our. The blood-soaked clothes worn by slain Bronx teen Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz as he was hacked at by a machete-wielding mob were displayed to jurors at the boy's murder trial Thursday,. Hundreds attended his funeral last summer. A street was named after Junior, a scholarship fund, a summer camp. The first verdict was announced against Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, who delivered the fatal blow with a kitchen knife that ultimately killed Guzman a year ago next week. I saw he was scared, and he reminded me of a person that I had seen before, Reyes said, adding he felt very bad about the murder. The case grabbed the attention of New Yorkers and across the nation, given that the brutal machete killing of the 15-year-old boy that took place inside a Bronx bodega in the summer of 2018 was captured on surveillance. Its alleged that defendant Jonaiki Martinez Estrella plunged the knife into Juniors neck near the end of the 20-second attack. All five defendants Antonio Santigo, Elvin Garcia, Manuel Rivera, Estrella and Muniz were members of the Trinitarios gang. Junior and the bodega owner appear to have an exchange with Kevin Alvarez before Junior is grabbed and beaten on the ground. It was Mr. Suero who had sent them out on June 20, 2018, armed with machetes and knives, to search for members of Sunset to attack, the two cooperating witnesses said. The night of the murder, my client, Manuel Rivera, wasnt carrying a machete; he wasnt a monster and he never intended to kill Junior. A dozen people appeared in court facing charges related to the death of 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who was killed in the Bronx. LexisNexis Brief Analysis produces powerful, near-instant legal argumentation insights using the power of AI. He was depicted in murals and online with a halo and angel wings. Go after Sunset, you know what you have to do, Suero reportedly told the men. Once that video was out, it took on a life of its own causing the defendants to lose the presumption of innocence and any chance for a fair trial (at least that close in time to the event itself under one year. Our investigation retraces Juniors last steps and uncovers new details that may answer why he was targeted. Crime Scene Unit Det. Its 11:37. The boy was slashed in the neck and died after running to a hospital three blocks away. Junior's parents were not in court, having been warned the images would be shown. Then hes dragged from the bodega and brutally stabbed by a swarm of attackers. A teenager hunted down and dragged from a New York City bodega, then swarmed by attackers outside. All 14 suspects are reportedly members of the Sures set of the Trinitarios gang. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Heres how Lexis Search Advantage | Transactional unites internal and external research to create better deals faster. However, four defense attorneys contested this notion, describing during opening statements that most of Guzman-Feliz's wounds as superficial and said it was the one cut to the throat that killed him. Mere days after the trial kicked off startling never-before-seen footage of the savage machete attack was presented by prosecutors. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. She described, in heartbreaking detail, how Guzman-Feliz looked up at her after the attack and motioned her to call 911. Witnesses say these two police officers stood by watching the scene. The murder of Lesandro rattled the city, prompting outrage on social media and calls for justice from elected officials and celebrities, including the rapper Cardi B and the Yankees pitcher C.C. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. The murder of 15-year-old Guzman-Feliz, who was known as Junior, has captivated the community and public interest, partly because the brutal June 20 attack was caught on surveillance video where the teen is seen being dragged outside the bodega and attacked by a gang of five men who stabbed him with knives and hacked him with a machete as he struggled to defend himself. Their trial provided a glimpse inside the violent Trinitarios gang, whose members mistook 15-year-old Lesandro Junior Guzman-Feliz for a rival. The mural outside of the bodega where Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz was attacked bears his birth and death dates: 2002 and 2018. The defense attorney for the man who allegedly dealt that throat cut took offense at that. Its horrific, defense attorney Kyle Watters said of his client, Estrella. The incident revealed the barbaric tactics of a gang called the Trinitarios, and it laid bare a glaring paradox: Amid historically low crime rates in New York, police are still struggling to contain brutal violence in some neighborhoods. When Junior ran, the group gave chase. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Thanks for contacting us. Mr. Alvarez said he and other gang members tried to block Lesandro with their cars, but the teenager fled into the Cruz and Chiky Grocery, a bodega at East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue. Whether Junior was a gang member or not, didnt justify his death. How do you protect your children from predators? This story has been shared 137,355 times. : Enjoy. The indicted are due back in court Oct. 25. A jury began deliberating Thursday on the five mens fates. Guzman-Feliz had been part of the NYPD's Explorers program, a group for youths interested in a law enforcement career. Todays verdict fortifies the Bronx communitys stand against violence, "Today Junior's family, and in fact our entire city, has received a measure of justice," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz said in a statement. Continuing coverage on the trial can be read here. Reyes said the order implied: If you have a gun, shoot it, if you a have a knife, you stab, if you have a machete, you use it.. Juniors friend, a Trinitario, had been attacked by a rival faction and allegedly turned to Junior for help. Alvarez, who testified last week as a cooperating witness, pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in a deal with Bronx prosecutors and is expected to serve no prison time. All rights reserved, Long Island Driver Wanted for Running From Deadly 7-Car Pileup, Upper East Side Deli Killer Clad in Hazmat Suit Likely Serial Robber: Sources, A dozen alleged gang members were indicted July 18, Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Flight Attendant Hit the Ceiling': 7 Hospitalized After Severe Turbulence Diverts Flight to Virginia, Fight for NY Casino License Heats Up as Developers Drop Coney Island Boardwalk First Look, Viral Kids' Star Ms. Rachel Is Taking a Break From Social Media After Backlash Over Co-Star Who Uses They/Them Pronouns, The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner announced the cause of death for slain teen Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, The OCME said Wednesday the Bronx teens June 20 death was a stab wound to the neck and classified the death as a homicide, Alleged gang members have been indicted on murder, manslaughter, conspiracy and other charges. Crime, Criminal Defense Attorneys, Gangs, Lesandro Junior Guzman Feliz, Manuel Rivera, Murder, Toni Messina. As Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a press conference following the verdict, Junior came to symbolize all of the young people who have lost their lives to brutal gang violence. In total, more than a dozen suspects have been arrested in connection to the killing. But the glee I saw in the eyes of spectators at the reading of straight convictions for Murder I was not founded. It led to a clearer morality tale. 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