THE BRONX — Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary, who sent five Trinitarios gang members to prison for more than 20 years in the ruthless bodega murder of teenager Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, won’t be back on the judge’s bench for the second trial.
PIX11 News learned Thursday from the Bronx District Attorney’s office that Neary had returned to the Westchester County court system, where he spent many years as a prosecutor, before coming to the Bronx.
The start of the second trial, involving two alleged leaders of the Los Sures set in the Trinitarios gang, has been delayed nearly a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judge James McCarty, Jr. will preside over the second case, whenever it starts.
Diego Suero and Frederick Then are charged with second degree murder, accused of ordering members of their crew to pursue a rival on June 20, 2018.
Suero and Then waived their “virtual” appearance at a status hearing Thursday, with proceedings adjourned until April 14.
It will be very difficult to begin the second trial until the COVID crisis passes.
Prosecutors told a jury in the first trial in 2019 that a convoy of four cars chased 15-year-old Guzman-Feliz, believing he was a member of the Sunset crew.
Graphic videos showing the teen being chased into — and dragged out of — a Bathgate Avenue bodega, before machete and knife-wielding attackers set upon him, horrified people around the world who saw the footage online.
Judge Neary sentenced Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, the gang member who delivered the lethal wound to Junior’s neck, to life without parole on Oct. 11, 2019.
“Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” Neary said to Martinez Estrella. “Senseless…savage is another word.”
“You chased down and slaughtered a 15-year-old, defenseless boy. Why? To be a big shot in a gang.”
Neary told another convicted killer, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, “You are not a real Dominican.”
The line was a reference to Santiago’s boast, when arrested in Paterson, New Jersey on June 24, 2018, that he was “a real Dominican.”
Judge Neary pointed out at the sentencing that “real Dominicans work hard, seek an education, and obey the law.”
The “Junior” murder trial was the most high-profile case of his career.