BROOKLYN, N.Y. – A teen who, because he was “bored,” sparked a mattress fire in Coney Island that killed an NYPD officer and seriously injured another has been sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.
Marcell Dockery was found guilty last month on all three counts he was facing: second-degree murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree arson.
Dockery was sentenced Tuesday to 19 years to life on the murder charge; 15 years in prison and 5 years probation on the assault charge; and 1 1/3 to 4 years on the arson charge. He also cut a deal in a Feb. 2014 attempted robbery case for which he was sentenced to 2 years.
All the sentences will run concurrently.
Prosecutors say Dockery used a lighter to set a mattress on fire on the 13th floor of the high-building at 2007 Surf Ave. in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn April 6, 2014. He was 16 at the time.
In a taped confession played during the trial, Dockery says he lit the mattress because he was "bored."
Dockery was just 16 at the time. He has a history of starting fires. Prosecutors say to this day, he has shown little remorse for his actions.
Responding Officer Dennis Guerra, 38, and a partner were overcome by smoke and carbon dioxide in the building’s elevator on April 6. They were both pulled unconscious from the building.
Guerra died several days after being in the hospital. Rodriguez needed a lung transplant and has suffered life-long injuries.
"She will never be the same this is a woman trying to rear her children she can't go to the end of her driveway without oxygen," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association.
Three heart wrenching victim impact statements were read from his son, sister and from his widow, Cathy, who was present in court.
"No sentencing will take my pain away," says Mrs. Guerra.
Mrs. Guerra talked about the pain of losing her husband. She spoke of her youngest son, Zachary, now 9 years old, who still suffers from anxiety, cries and has angry outbursts dealing with the loss of his father.
Officer Guerra had four children.
His oldest son, Jonathan submitted a statement, which was read by his uncle, in court.
"Two weeks ago I graduated high school my father was not there. This weekend is Father's Day, another reminder of what I have loss."
Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Dockery turned to face every person who read an impact statement.
A sea of blue filed into the courthouse. Officers filled every seat in the courtroom and it was standing room only the courtroom. With them, was Guerra's partner, Officer Rosa Rodriguez.
Dockery had initially been charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment. After Guerra’s death, the teen was also charged with murder.
The Guerra family acknowledged his death was an accident but feels justice was served.
"We have no bad feeling toward the Dockery family but he needs help," said Dennis Guerra, the victim's father.
Dennis Guerra is a retired police officer. He tells PIX11 the type of person his son was.
"My son was a loving and caring person, a person that would go out of his way to help people just like he did in this incident," said his father. "He didn't have to buy it was in him. Me being a police officer also, he wanted me to be proud."
Miriam Guerra, Officer Guerra's mother, spoke of her anguish.
"My pain is a continuing pain, it will never go away, said Guerra. "As long as I live, that's the worst thing, to lose a child."
Guerra family members all said their religion has guided them to forgive Dockery.
The family says they hope he gets the help he needs in prison.
Dockery has said he was coerced by detectives into giving a confession. He maintains his innocence.
Marcell Dockery's attorney has already said they plan on appealing the verdict.
Guerra’s passing spurred police officials in New York City to change the way officers respond to fires.
They’ll now require officers responding to structures on fire to take the stairs, according to an internal memo send to precincts shortly after the fatal fire.
Deputy Chief Kim Royster said the new protocol replaces a memo which instructed officers to use the elevator. Royster said the change came after consulting with fire officials in the wake of Guerra’s death.