The killing, captured on video, rattled New Yorkers like few in recent memory: A 15-year-old boy frantically ran into a deli and begged a clerk to let him hide behind the counter. Members of the Trinitarios gang charged in and dragged the teenager out onto the sidewalk, where they hacked him with knives.

The boy ran toward a nearby hospital, but collapsed and bled to death before he could get help. The police later determined that the gang members had mistaken the teenager for someone else.

On Friday, five of the men seen on the video attacking the youth, Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, known as Junior, were sentenced to life in prison in a Bronx courtroom, after being convicted of murder and gang assault in June.

Justice Robert A. Neary called the killing “senseless,” “savage” and “cowardly” as he sentenced the first defendant, Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 25, who prosecutors said had struck the fatal blow. “Why?” the judge said. “To be held as a big shot in a gang? I am not sure you sense the magnitude of what you’ve done.”

CreditNew York Police Department

Before Justice Neary handed down the sentences, Lesandro’s parents gave emotional speeches describing their loss. “That night, there were two deaths: Junior and I, who was left dead inside,” his mother, Leandra Feliz, said. “If it were up to me, I would sentence these murderers to 300 years in prison.”

Lesandro was walking alone at about 11:40 p.m. on June 20, 2018, in the Belmont section of the Bronx, looking at his phone, when he was accosted by several members of the Los Surés faction of the Trinitarios. The gang had been hunting for enemies and thought Lesandro was a member of a rival group, according to trial testimony.

The men chased Lesandro for blocks, catching up to him as he tried to hide inside the Cruz and Chiky Grocery, a bodega at East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue.

The gruesome murder a few minutes later prompted outrage on social media and calls for justice from elected officials and celebrities, including the rapper Cardi B and the Yankees pitcher C. C. Sabathia. Hundreds of people attended Lesandro’s funeral.

This week the authorities announced the indictment of 15 more members of the same gang, accusing them of carrying out attacks with machetes, knives and fists in Upper Manhattan.

Lesandro’s father, Lisandro Guzman, told the court that since his son’s murder he has struggled to sleep. Weekends have become a “battle to stay busy” for him because those were the days he used to spend with his son. “You will never have the ability to understand the pain you have caused,” Mr. Guzman told the convicted men.

Before his sentencing, Mr. Martinez apologized to Leandro’s family in Spanish. “It was not my intention to cause the death of this kid, but that day I was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and I did not know what I was doing,” he said.

Justice Neary, however, was unmoved and gave him the maximum penalty. “Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” he said. “Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often comes to my mind is cowardly.”

“You and your fellow gang members chased down and slaughtered a 15-year-old, defenseless boy in the most gruesome manner, and we in this courtroom had the misfortune of witnessing it on tape,” the judge said.

Arguing for leniency, the defense lawyers described the mesmerizing pull of gang life for young men like their clients, who they said came from troubled families and had found in the Trinitarios a group in which they felt valued and protected for the first time. The gang has provided the men with money, status and protection in return for their unflinching loyalty in carrying out orders from their superiors.

Mr. Rivera’s lawyer, Toni Messina, said his client was too young to fully comprehend what he was doing. “He was 18 years old and was seduced by the cult,” she said.

Categories: News

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: