Five gang members who were convicted in the vicious Bronx murder of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz received life sentences on Friday, it was reported.
Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 25, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, 25, Jose Muniz, 23, and Elvin Garcia, 25, were each sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars.
The other gang member, 19-year-old Manuel Rivera, was given 23 years to life in prison, reported the New York Daily News.
Guzman-Feliz, 15, was killed in a machete attack in the Bronx on June 20, 2018.
The five were found guilty in June 2019 of first-degree murder. Estrella was accused of delivering the fatal blow.
Prosecutors said the suspects killed the teen after mistaking him for a rival gang member.
After the verdict was read, his mother said that she hopes “divine and earthly justice be served, with God. Justice for Junior,” ABC7 reported in June.
Prosecutors said the suspects were members of the Trinitarios gang and were set out to harm rival gang members before they killed Guzman-Feliz, NY1 reported.
Two of the suspects who were charged, Kevin Alvarez and Michael Reyes, became cooperating witnesses, the report said.
Guzman-Feliz, meanwhile, was part of the New York City Police Department’s Explorers Program, which is for youths interested in law enforcement, and he also dreamed of becoming a police officer.
The surveillance footage seen on television triggered protests demanding “Justice for Junior”—words that appeared on signs hoisted by supporters of the teenager’s family Friday after the verdict was read.
“Junior came to symbolize all of the young people who have lost their lives to brutal gang violence,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said later. “Today’s verdict fortifies the Bronx community’s stand against violence.”
Facts About Crime in the United States
Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).
The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.
The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.
The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.
While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend. Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.