Five men have been convicted in connection with the tragic murder of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, who was dragged from a Bronx bodega by a group of men and hacked to death with a machete in a case of mistaken identity.
Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Manuel Rivera, Elvin Garcia, Jose Muniz and Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago were all found guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy and gang assault by a jury on Friday after eight hours of deliberations, WPIX-TV reports.
All five could now face life in prison without parole a piece for the killing of 15-year-old Guzman-Feliz. They are scheduled to be sentenced on July 16. They reportedly remained emotionless as the verdict was read except for Muniz, who used a machete in the attack. He shouted at the court “Popote, hasta la muerte!” which means "Trinitarios until death,” according to WPIX. The five were reportedly in the Trinitarios gang.
"I'm not going to have my son back but those killers, those murderers are not going to be outside killing other kids," his mom Leandra Feliz told reporters after the verdict. "We have to stop the violence and we have to save the city."
An additional nine men were also arrested in connection with the murder. They are scheduled to face trial in September.
Surveillance video, which was played during the trial, captured harrowing images of five men pulling a terrified-looking Guzman-Feliz out of the Cruz and Chiky Grocery story in the Belmont section of the Bronx. Once they got the boy outside the store, they repeatedly hacked him with a machete and stabbed him with knives. The boy, mortally wounded, got up and ran toward a nearby hospital, but collapsed on the way, bleeding out on the sidewalk.
The group reportedly mistook Guzman-Felix as a member of a rival gang.
In reality, he was an aspiring police officer. His mom told the New York Daily News last year that her son wanted to be a police detective, and was a member of the Explorers, an NYPD-sponsored group for teenage boys and girls that provides mentoring and encouragement from police officers.
Another man, Kevin Alvarez, pleaded guilty in late April to manslaughter and conspiracy in connection with the killing, WABC in New York reported. He now faces 25 years in prison. He testified against the newly convicted five and is now in protective custody. He admitted being in a gang and taking part in the fatal attack.
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