An accused gang member believed to have fatally stabbed a New York City boy in the neck last summer has rejected a plea deal Thursday that could’ve spared him from spending the rest of his life behind bars.
According to News12, Jonaiki Martinez-Estrella, 24, one of 14 men charged in the June 20 slaying of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, turned down a plea deal that would’ve required him to serve anywhere from 23 years to life in prison. Martinez-Estrella is believed to have been the man spotted stabbing Lesandro-Guzman outside a Bronx bodega before the teen fled—bleeding to death steps away from a hospital.
The latest news appears to contradict earlier reports regarding the victim’s family and prosecutors’ interactions in this case. Last month, a source told WPIX that any plea deals would have to be approved by the slain boy’s parents.
This month, Guzman-Feliz’s mother, Leandra Feliz, told the news station that she plans to reject any plea deals for Martinez-Estrella. Her comments were in response to news that her son’s accused killer had offered to plead guilty if he’s guaranteed a 20-year sentence with the possibility of parole.
“He killed a baby,” Feliz said to WPIX.
“He can’t be asking whatever he wants. I want life for him with no parole.”
It’s not immediately known whether the teen’s parents ultimately approved the recent plea deal or if prosecutors took their opinion into consideration when offering the deal to Martinez-Estrella.
On Thursday, Judge Robert Neary addressed accusations that the slain teen was a gang member, saying there’s no evidence proving that’s the case. Neary went on to say that he doesn’t want those unfounded claims discussed in the defense’s opening statements, News12 reported.
Late last month, suspect Jose Muniz’s lawyer suggested that the slain teen had gang ties while cross-examining Bronx Homicide Squad’s Oscar Rosa about comments made by another murder suspect, Diego Suero, 29.
According to WPIX, Suero had identified Muniz, 21, as the “head guy” of the “Sure” crew of the Trinitarios gang—leading Muniz’s attorney to claim that Suero was “familiar with” the victim because he was a member of a rival gang.
The assertion led to outrage in and outside the courtroom. Police believe the murdered 15-year-old was mistaken for a rival gang member. Officials had also debunked rumors that the 15-year-old was killed due to his resemblance to someone who had appeared in a sex tape.
Estrella’s trial was scheduled to begin on Monday but will likely be postponed until the jury selection process is completed. Continuing coverage on Lesandro Guzman-Feliz’s case can be read here.
In addition to Estrella, the following 13 men face prosecution in connection with the June 20 slaying:
- Manuel Rivera, 18;
- Jose Muniz, 21;
- Diego Suero, 29;
- 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 “Junior” Guzman-Feliz/Facebook]