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(NEW YORK POST) — A Bronx judge slammed the five gangbangers who killed Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz with lengthy prison terms Friday but saved his sharpest rebuke for the teen’s “cowardly” executioner.
Judge Robert Neary handed down the sentences to the Trinitarios gang members separately in Bronx Criminal Court, first sending Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 25, to prison for life without the possibility of parole for the heinous caught-on-camera June 20, 2018 machete and knife killing of 15-year-old Guzman-Feliz.
“Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” Neary said to Martinez Estrella. “Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often comes to my mind is cowardly.”
Surveillance video shows that it was Martinez Estrella who delivered the 4-and-a-half-inch-deep knife blow to Guzman-Feliz’s neck, which ultimately killed him, prosecutors had argued.
The savage pack stabbed the teen outside of the Cruz and Chiky bodega after he was dragged out of the Belmont store in a case of mistaken identity — a slaying that shocked the city, and grabbed national headlines.
“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,” the judge said.
Neary, who called Martinez Estrella the “executioner,” continued: “You destroyed a young life, condemned his family and yours to a lifetime of pain and despair.”
Before being hit with the sentence, a Spanish-speaking Martinez Estrella said through a translator, “First of all, I want to say sorry to his family and ask forgiveness,” prompting someone in the courtroom to yell out, “Bulls—t!”
“My intention was not to cause the death of this kid or cause injuries that would end up in the loss of his life,” continued Martinez Estrella, who claimed he was “under the influence of alcohol and drugs.”
“Regrettably, I’m responsible for the death of the young child, Junior,” he said.
But the judge was having none of it.
He told Martinez Estrella that he has previously “shown little remorse” and that the sudden show of emotion “is the first indication I’ve had that you have any empathy for the victim or remorse and it rings a little hollow this late in the game.”
Indeed, before his sentencing, Martinez Estrella, along with Jose Muniz, 23, smirked for cameras in the courtroom and threw up gang signs for the violent Dominican street crew.
But ahead of his sentencing, Muniz begged for forgiveness.
“I do not know what it’s like to lose a child,” Muniz, who also spoke in Spanish, told the court. “But from the bottom of my heart, I ask that you can forgive me.”
Muniz admitted he was there, but had no role in the teen’s death. “That is why I used the other side of the machete to cause no injury,” he told the court.
“I’d like to ask for forgiveness from all his family, Dominicans, and the state of New York and all my family for dirtying their name,” Muniz said.
Muniz, along with co-defendants Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, 25, Elvin Garcia, 25, were each hit with a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Nineteen-year-old co-defendant Manuel Rivera was sentenced to 23 years to life behind bars.
“You disgraced your own family,” Neary told Muniz. “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 added that it was “troubling” to him when Muniz shouted at the court “Popote, hasta la muerte” or “Trinitarios until death” when he was convicted in June.
Neary then turned his venom to Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, telling him: “What you’ve done brought disgrace to any real Dominican.”
“I find it ironic that when you were arrested you bragged to the detective ‘I’m a real Dominican,’ puffing out your chest. Well, I’m here to tell you…you are not a real Dominican,” the judge said.
Dominicans, he went on, “work hard every day,” “seek an education,” and “obey the law.”
Guzman-Feliz’s devastated parents kept their composure throughout the morning’s proceedings. In victim impact statements, read in unwavering Spanish, they let the courtroom know the depth of their unending grief.
“Here I am, a mother without my son…an innocent, 15 year-old boy who was not a gang member who roamed the streets with bad intentions,” mom Leandra Feliz said. “These criminals ripped him away from me leaving all his family and school friends.”
“They killed an innocent child. Then all these men, not a single one said, ‘No, no, no, don’t do it,” Feliz continued, adding that on that tragic night “there were two deaths: Junior and I, who was left dead inside.”
“This group of evil criminals using their gang-related activities decided to go out and kill,” she said. “These actions were all captured on camera leaving millions of people devastated. In the same way the videos of their violence went viral the punishment should be equal so that the New York City can be safer for everyone.”
The mom said her son, who was in the NYPD’s Explorers program, “dreamed of becoming a detective so he can protect this city.”
“Unfortunately, his dream was crushed by these dangerous gang members,” said Feliz.
Guzman-Feliz’s dad, Lisandro Guzman, said the since his son’s murder, he struggles “daily to find meaning in my life.”
In addressing the defendants, Guzman said: “I will never forgive you for deciding to murder my son. You deserved to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. You deserved to be punished for causing so much pain. You are the poster children for danger to society.”
“My hope is that you will never have a chance to hurt another child in the way you hurt mine,” the heartbroken dad said. “My hope is that another family will never have to live with the pain of losing a child, the pain that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”
In June — less than a week before the one-year anniversary of the vicious murder — a jury convicted the five Trinitarios gang members on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, second degree conspiracy and second-degree gang assault.
Eight other defendants in the case are still awaiting trial.
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