THE BRONX — The mother of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was at a Bronx courthouse Monday, anxiously waiting for a judge to set the date for the first trial in the brutal death of her 15-year-old son.
“I need justice for Junior, and I want everybody to come together in supporting me,” said Leandra Feliz. “Thank you, God bless you,” she said by a third-floor elevator at the Bronx Hall of Justice on East 161st Street, before she was ushered away.
In a courtroom several floors below at a hearing for five suspects charged with Murder 1 in the June 20 bodega killing of her son, Judge Robert Neary set a trial date of April 15.
Five of the 14 total defendants are accused of wielding various knives and a machete that delivered lethal wounds to Junior on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue.
Neary, who will preside over the murder trials, imposed a gag order on prosecutors, defense attorneys, and anyone else connected to the case weeks ago.
The judge was concerned over the massive pre-trial publicity that has surrounded this case, along with the dozens of Instagram and Facebook accounts that discuss the evidence.
The accused are alleged members of the Trinitarios gang, and there are always security issues when they’re transported to court for any hearing.
PIX11 was told Monday that four of them remain in city jails, possibly Rikers Island, and one other is being housed about 70 miles away in the Suffolk County jail.
Police said Trinitarios gang members were cruising the Belmont section of the Bronx looking for rivals on that Wednesday night last June.
Investigators said when they saw Junior, they yelled out “Sunset” — the name of an opposing crew — and the frightened teen started running.
Junior sought refuge in the bodega , even startling the owner by jumping over the counter. A group of suspects was captured on surveillance storming into the store, demanding Junior, before dragging the desperate teen to the sidewalk outside, where others stabbed him repeatedly.
A mortally wounded Junior stumbled back into the bodega, but employees—and an impatient customer—pointed him toward St. Barnabas Hospital up the block.
Junior managed to make it to the hospital security booth, where he collapsed and bled to death.