THE BRONX — Defense attorneys representing five murder defendants accused of fatally stabbing 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman Feliz last June tried to use the infamous surveillance footage of the teen’s death to their advantage in court on Thursday.
Martin Goldberg, lawyer for 22-year-old Jose Muniz, showed a Bronx homicide detective “freeze frames” of his client walking away from the pack of sidewalk attackers before Junior received the lethal knife wound to his neck that killed him.
The teen victim was on the ground at the point after the initial assault.
“Junior is not actually stabbed in the neck until after he gets up from the ground,” Goldberg noted. “It’s fair to say Mr. Muniz has disengaged and is walking away before Junior is stabbed in the neck.”
“Running away,” Detective Francis Orlando responded.
Earlier, the defense attorney had asked the investigator if he had seen the autopsy report, which did not seem to indicate Junior was killed by any machete injuries.
“He was coming at him with a machete blade down, so I’m sure he was causing some injuries,” Detective Orlando said.
Another defense attorney, Amy Attias—who represents defendant Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago—continued to question whether her client was the person seen with a dark hoodie briefly coming into view near the end of the assault.
She also questioned another alleged image of her client on the sidewalk.
“Is that the best photo of the person’s face?” she asked Detective Orlando.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the best photo,” the detective replied. “But it is a photo of your client.”
Attias also questioned the investigator about what, if anything, he knows about gang rules and discipline.
She noted there was a Trinitarios protocol where several gang members would hit another member for up to 21 minutes if they didn’t follow orders from a leader.
Attias concluded her cross examination by asking the detective, “You have no DNA connecting Antonio to this case, correct?”
The detective responded, “Correct.”
She asked again, “You have no DNA connecting him to this case, correct?”
Detective Orlando once again responded, “Correct.”
During other testimony Thursday, Detective Orlando revealed the white Acura allegedly used as one of four getaway cars was found in a parking garage located at 1862 East Tremont Avenue.
At one point, the detective said Junior’s ripped clothing was in a big, brown bag the prosecutor handed him, a bag that had been sealed.
The clothing was ripped when emergency room personnel at St. Barnabas Hospital frantically tried to save Junior’s life.
The clothing was not tested for DNA evidence because prosecutors and the criminalist felt there would be too much different genetic material on the clothes.
There was also discussion about a New York Times surveillance video that had been obtained from the Adams Place area where Junior was heading, before he was chased to the bodega.
Detective Orlando acknowledged it showed some cars involved in the eventual chase cruising near Adams Place, but he said when he tried to get the video in September last year he learned “the video was no longer available.”