MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. — An MS-13 gang member pleaded guilty to murder in the brutal machete death of an 18-year-old on Long Island in 2016, acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith announced Wednesday.
Samuel Ponce, who prosecutors said went by the gang name Little Chickie, pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree on Tuesday, officials said.
Now 20 years old, Ponce was 15 when he and other gang members fatally stabbed Bryan Steven Cho Lemus with machetes inside Massapequa Park Preserve, according to prosecutors.
Lemus, a perceived enemy of MS-13, was walking his dog on Arthur Street in Uniondale when he was lured into the park on Aug. 23, 2016, officials said.
His body wasn’t found until years later, on May 23, 2019. Members of the Nassau County Police Department’s Homicide Bureau came across the shallow grave while canvassing the park.
Ponce, of Hempstead, was arrested on Sept. 17, 2019.
“Bryan Lemus was just 18 years old when he was viciously attacked and violently murdered with machetes by the defendant and multiple MS-13 members,” acting District Attorney Smith said. “The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office has for years been committed to prosecuting the brutal crimes of members of MS-13, to rid gang violence from the streets of Nassau County and secure justice for the victims and their families. I thank our partners at the Nassau County Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, and FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their assistance in this case.”
Ponce faces a maximum sentence of 15 years-to-life in prison because he was 15 at the time of the crime, according to the district attorney’s office. He is expected to be sentenced to 9 years-to-life in prison on Aug. 25, 2021, Smith said. The district attorney’s office recommended a sentence of 11-years-to-life in prison.