Five people were convicted of murder Friday in the. Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Jose Muniz, Manuel Rivera and Elvin Garcia were found guilty on all four counts they faced, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy and gang assault.
Prosecutors say the men charged were part of the Trinitarios gang and mistakenly believed the victim, Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, was part of a rival gang faction. The 15-year-old was seen on surveillance footage being dragged out of a convenience store before he was surrounded by a large group outside and attacked with knives, including a machete.
The boy ran to a hospital, where he later died. The disturbing video drew shock and outrage across New York City. Guzman-Feliz’s family and supporters rallied around the hashtag #JusticeforJunior.
The five convicted Friday afternoon were among 14 charged overall in connection with the case.
On Thursday, jurors asked to rewatch the graphic surveillance video and to rehear testimony alleging the murder was planned to target a member of the rival “Sunsets,” reports CBS New York.
During closing arguments, some jurors were seen crying as autopsy photos were displayed. Guzman-Feliz’s mother, Leandra Feliz, wept and screamed at times during the emotional trial.
Guzman-Feliz aspired to be a police detective and was a member of the NYPD Explorers program for high school students. New York police commissioner James O’Neill was amonglast year.
“My son was a good kid. He only was 15 years old. He was doing the best in the school at the time when that tragedy happened,” Leandra Feliz said after the verdict was announced. “He was in the Explorers program. He was a really good kid. He had never been into any problem in his life until those killers murdered my son.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said the young man “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,” Clark said.
The five defendants could face life in prison when they are sentenced next month.