THE BRONX — Two gang members who apologized for their parts in the brutal 2018 slaying of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman Feliz were throwing up Trinitarios gang signs in the minutes before Junior’s parents made “victim impact” statements.
The image was captured by Richard Harbus, who served as pool photographer for the sentencing of five members of the Los Sures set, convicted of chasing and fatally stabbing Junior on June 20, 2018.
When Jonaiki Martinez Estrella later stated, “My intention was not to cause the death of this kid,” the judge had a response ready.
“Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” Neary said. “Senseless… savage is another word. But the one that often comes to my mind is cowardly.”
The prosecutor, Morgan Dolan, had pointed out to Judge Neary that Estrella “put Trinitarios before all else.”
And Dolan quoted cooperating witness, Michael “Sosa” Reyes, who testified about a crude statement Estrella made in a getaway car, after acknowledging he’d stabbed Junior in the neck.
Dolan recalled Estrella said of Junior that “he would not be able to eat for a very long time.”
Instead, Junior was dead less than 15 minutes after the bodega assault ended.
Neary later said to Estrella, “You chased down and slaughtered a 15 year old defenseless boy. Why? To be a big shot in a gang.”
“You delivered the fatal stab wound,” Judge Neary continued, “serving as executioner.”
Neary sentenced Estrella to life without parole.
The judge was only slightly more lenient to Jose Muniz, who argued he didn’t inflict anywhere near a fatal wound with his machete.
Judge Neary said he was troubled by Muniz’s shout to the court on the day of the verdict, “Trinitario to death.”
“You threw your life away,” the judge told Muniz, “at the age of 21, you made a misguided decision to get involved with this gang in a murder.”
Muniz had asked forgiveness from Junior’s family and the state of New York and added “The greatest forgiveness I ask is from my mother and my son.”
Judge Neary sentenced Muniz to 25 years to life.