THE BRONX (PIX11) — In the closing chapter of the “Junior” case, a final gang member pleaded guilty Tuesday to manslaughter in the first degree in connection with the brutal 2018 stabbing death of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz.
Danel Fernandez, now 25, was identified on video dragging “Junior”–just 15 years old—out of a Bathgate Avenue bodega, after a mob of Trinitarios gang members chased the teen on foot and with cars on June 20, 2018. Junior was then fatally stabbed by five other gang members on the sidewalk outside.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced the plea agreement, saying Fernandez was the last member of the Los Sures set of the Trinitarios gang to plead in the case. He will be sentenced to 18 years in prison next month, instead of facing the possibility of life behind bars, if he was convicted at a murder trial in early 2023.
“This is the last of 13 defendants who had a role in the death of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz to be held accountable,” the district attorney said. “Although the defendant did not stab the victim, his actions led to the horrifying death of the innocent teen.”
The DA’s office was looking to avoid a third murder trial, set to start in January 2023.
Five gang members pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree in the last month–Jose Tavarez, Ronald Urena, Luis Cabrera Santos, Gabriel Ramirez Concepcion, and Danilo Payamps Pacheco. They face prison time ranging from 12 to 15 years when they’re sentenced next month.
The Junior case made international headlines when Trinitarios gang members were captured on surveillance chasing 15-year-old Junior in the Belmont section of the Bronx, before dragging him out of a bodega and then fatally stabbing him with knives and a machete. The mortally wounded teen managed to run up East 183rd Street to St. Barnabas Hospital, before he collapsed and bled to death by a security booth outside the emergency room.
Prosecutors had already won convictions in the first “Junior” trial, in 2019, against the five men who stabbed the teen. The pandemic delayed the second trial by more than two years, with two gang leaders of the Los Sures set convicted in 2022 for ordering Trinitarios members to hunt rivals. Police said Junior was a victim of mistaken identity.
Junior’s mother, Leandra Feliz, was not happy about prosecutors offering plea deals, but the District Attorney’s office explained to her why gang members may face different degrees of culpability in the attack.
The mother said she wasn’t notified that Danel Fernandez would plead guilty Tuesday and added, “Maybe he find out it’s better for him.”