Justice For Junior: Five killers to spend their lives in prison

People come out to honor Junior at the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue on Thursday, August 20.
Schneps Media/ Alex Mitchell

Justice for Junior has been served.

Five conspirators in the murder of 15-year-old Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz were found guilty on Friday, June 14. Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Antonio Rodriguez, Hernandez Santiago, Manuel Rivera, Jose Muniz and Elvin Garcia were found guilty of first-degree Murder, second-degree Murder, second-degree Conspiracy and second-degree Gang Assault, the Bronx District Attorney’s office confirmed almost a year after the Wednesday, June 20, 2018 attack.

Court proceedings in the gruesome case began on Thursday, October 25. That’s when Junior’s parents, Leandra Feliz and Lesandro Guzman first went face-to-face with their son’s alleged ruthless killers in the beginning of the grueling process.

After what police said to be a case of mistaken identity on a gang ordered stabbing, surveillance video showed Junior running into a bodega, attempting to hide behind the counter. When the worker attempts to hide the boy, the gang members come into the store and drag him out to the street. The travesty unfolded on the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, which is now named after the fallen NYPD Explorer.

After the senseless knife and machete attack, Junior runs back in the store where the people there advise him to seek medical attention at St. Barnabas Hospital, a block away. Mortally wounded he collapses, and dies before he can get help.

Some neighbors watched the attack unfold from their apartments above.

“We heard ‘Open up! They’re going to murder me!’ and by the time we saw what was going on from our window, it was all over. The entire attack was less than ten seconds,” one neighbor said.

Higher-ups in the gang that is being blamed for the horrendous attack have taken to social media to claim the attack wasn’t meant for Guzman-Feliz and even went to the extent of expressing condolences to his family.

Images and videos from the mistaken, rapid murder had been played throughout the near five-week trial for the accused killers, which caused Leandra to sob repeatedly in the Bronx Hall of Justice.

“They left me dead and my heart broken,” she emotionally said in Spanish after an earlier court hearing.

The five will be sentenced on Tuesday, July 16 and are likely to do life in prison with no opportunity for parole.

“I just need justice for my son,” Junior’s Mother Leandra Feliz told supporters.

The DA is considering to leverage plea deals to the eight additional accused accomplices in Junior’s case in an effort to reach the roots of the gang responsible for his death.

Frederick Then, Ronald Urena, Jose Tavarez, Danel Fernandez, Gabriel Ramirez Concepcion, Diego Suero, Danilo Payamps Pacheco and Luis Caberasantos, face second-degree murder charges for involvement with cornering Junior into the infamous bodega.

Pre-trial for those eight is expected to begin on Monday, September 23.

At the time of the murder, the accused were rounded up by police quickly from an overwhelming flood of amateur footage and tips that they received within hours of Junior’s death.

This case also served as the inspiration for the Bronx DA’s office to create its new camera-sharing program, which creates an intranet of security cameras to help prevent another teen sharing the same unfortunate fate of Junior.

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