On Friday, five defendants were found guilty of first-degree murder for the slaying of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz in the Bronx last June.
The case captivated and outraged New York City after the teen was caught on tape being dragged from a bodega and viciously stabbed to death.
The jury deliberated for eight hours, according the New York Daily News, before delivering its verdict against Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Elvin Garcia, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, Miguel Rivera and Jose Muniz, all of whom were reported members of the Trinitarios street gang.
Guzman-Feliz was not affiliated with a gang, law enforcement said last year, though prosecutors in the case alleged that the defendants attacked him because they mistakenly believed he was involved in a rival group.
Nine other suspects are also accused of taking part in the attack; they are due to be tried at a future date.
In surveillance footage from June 20, 2018., the suspects followed Guzman-Feliz into the bodega and grabbed him as he struggles. They then dragged him toward the door.
Guzman-Feliz yelled for help, an N.Y.C. police source previously told PEOPLE, and he can be seen on video clinging to the doorframe amid the assault.
The teen was stabbed several times in the neck, according to police. He managed to flee to a nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
“This 15-year-old boy, moments before death, fought like hell to get away,” Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dolan said at trial, reports NBC New York, which also notes that some jurors were moved to tears by the disturbingly graphic autopsy photos.
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After the guilty verdicts were delivered Friday, Guzman-Feliz’s mother Leandra Feliz spoke out, according to Pix11, saying: “I’m not going to have my son back but those killers, those murderers are not going to be outside killing other kids. We have to stop the violence and we have to save the city.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark also made a statement, saying, “Junior came to symbolize all of the young people who have lost their lives to brutal gang violence. Today’s verdict fortifies the Bronx community’s stand against violence.”
Guzman-Feliz had aspirations of becoming a policeman, and had enrolled in the N.Y.C. Police Department’s Explorers program, which guides young people with an interest in law enforcement careers.
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