Justice for Junior has finally begun. Five of the 14 accused gang members that are charged with murdering 15-year-old Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz outside of a bodega on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue on Wednesday, June 20, are now facing trial.
Jury selection began for Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Jose Muniz, Manuel Rivera and Elvin Garcia at the Bronx Hall of Justice on Monday, April 15.
The nine remaining suspects are due in court on Thursday, May 2 where they too face murder charges.
Court proceedings in the case began on Thursday, October 25. Junior’s parents went face to face with their son’s alleged ruthless killers in the beginning of the grueling process.
“I just need justice for my son,” Junior’s Mother Leandra Feliz told supporters. “They left me dead and my heart broken,” she emotionally said in Spanish.
Helping make the NYPD’s apprehension of the 14 gang members so quick was an overwhelming flood of amateur footage and tips they received within hours of Junior’s murder.
This case served as the inspiration for the Bronx DA’s office to create its new camera-sharing program, which just like having a flood of amateur footage in Junior’s instance, has created an intranet of security cameras in retail corridors to aid in either proving or disproving a crime.
In the 11 months since the attack, the Bronx has given back to Leandra and her family in many ways.
Bathgate Avenue has now been renamed Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman Feliz Way, while Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. helped create the upstate sleep-away camp named ‘Camp Junior’ for Bronx youngsters. In addition many Bronxites opened their hearts and wallets with contributions and donations.