An attorney representing one of five suspects accused of fatally stabbing a 15-year-old New York boy last summer insinuated in court that the slain teen was possibly a gang member—leading to outrage inside and outside of court.
From WPIX, the comments came Thursday while Jose Muniz’s lawyer cross-examined detective Oscar Rosa of the Bronx Homicide Squad about comments another murder suspect, Diego Suero, 29, had made. Suero allegedly told authorities that Muniz, 21, was the “head guy” of the “Sure” crew of the Trinitarios gang.
Police footage reportedly captured Suero saying there was a meeting at his apartment before and after the June 20 attack that left Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, dead. The detective revealed that Suero was the person identified in documents as “Witness C,” who had identified every participant in the June 20 murder.
Suero’s currently facing first-degree murder charges for allegedly ordering the hit on the rival gang which resulted in Guzman-Feliz’s death.
During cross-examination, the defense attorney told Rosa that Suero was “familiar with” the teen victim, to which the detective responded, “I believe so.”
“And he said he knew him as a member of the “Sunset” Trinitarios,” the attorney continued, referring to a rival gang of the Sure crew.
The assertion left to a swift objection from the prosecution, which the presiding judge sustained, according to the news station.
On June 20, surveillance cameras captured a group of men dragging Guzman-Feliz outside a Bronx bodega before attacking and stabbing him. The injured teen could be seen stumbling inside the bodega before exiting and making a run for the hospital. The teen reportedly took his last breaths mere steps away from the emergency room.
Multiple reports indicated that the 15-year-old had been mistaken for a rival gang member. Outside of court, Guzman-Ortiz’s older brother expressed outrage at the defense attorney’s insinuation.
“I know my little brother,” Manny Ortiz told WPIX.
“They’re going to say everything. Are you going to believe a guy who’s going to be in jail a long time?”
The defense attorney’s allegations come as some of the suspects facing first-degree murder charges are reportedly angling for a plea deal to spare them from life in prison. A source told the news station that one of the five accused stabbers is pushing for a 20-year sentence. However, the victim’s parents will reportedly have the final say regarding plea bargains.
In addition to Muniz and Suero, the following 12 men—all suspected members of the Trinitarios gang—have been criminally charged in connection with the June 20 murder:
- Manuel Rivera, 18;
- Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 24;
- Luis A. Cabrarasantos, 25;
- Frederick Then, 20;
- Danilo Payamps Pacheco, 21;
- Danel Fernandez, 21;
- Ronald Urena, 29;
- Santiago Rodriguez, 24;
- Kevin Alvarez, 19;
- Elvin Garcia, 23;
- Jose Taverez, 21;
- and Gabriel Ramirez Concepcion, 26
[Featured image: Lesandro Guzman-Ortiz/NYPD via AP]