NEW YORK -- Defense attorneys for five, alleged members of the Trinitarios gang, accused of murder in the first degree for the savage killing of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, argued successfully for a delay in the first trial.
Lawyer Toni Messina, who’s representing Manuel Rivera, filed a motion for the defense team, stating Junior’s murder in June 2018 “caused a media sensation.”
“Video of his stabbing has been posted, reposted, and viewed by millions of people around the world. Dozens of Facebook and Twitter accounts, garnering tens of thousands of views….have been created. Murals of Junior’s face have been painted, rap songs written; and celebrities have weighed in, all demanding ‘Justice for Junior,’” she wrote.
“However, ‘justice’ that comes so close in time to the crime itself is more a cry for revenge than fairness.”
Messina noted that “Most renowned criminal cases that have attracted extensive media attention are not tried until at least 20 months after they occurred.”
The attorney referred to numerous cases, beginning with the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which happened 21 months after the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Tsarnaev was convicted.
She also wrote of Chanel Lewis’ case. He’s the Brooklyn man accused in the August 2016 rape and murder of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano. Lewis was arrested in early 2017. His first trial didn’t begin until November 2018 and ended with a hung jury. The second case is happening now.
Messina also referred to Sayfullo Saipov, accused in the Halloween 2017 terror truck attack on the West Street bike path which left eight people dead. His trial is supposed to started in October 2019.
Judge Robert Neary ruled pre-trial hearings could be delayed until March 25 and said the trial would start immediately after they were finished.
Junior’s mother and father, along with his older sister, Genesis, attended the court hearing Tuesday in the Bronx Hall of Justice.
One spectator named Jennifer, who wanted to secure a seat in court, arrived at the building at 5:30 a.m.
Another woman, Gloria Virella, wore a Yankees cap with various images of Junior sewn into it and a sweatshirt with a large image of Junior’s face painted on the front.
People around the world have been horrified by the violence they witnessed on the Junior videos, various surveillance images that show the teen being chased for blocks to a bodega on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, where he tried to hide from his pursuers.
Multiple men are seen storming into the bodega, dragging Junior from behind the counter. Others waiting on the street then set upon Junior with knives and a machete.
The teen received a lethal wound to his neck. He was turned away when he went back into the deli to ask for help. He managed to walk a block to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he collapsed to the ground by a security booth, bleeding profusely.
Junior died before he made it to the emergency room.