NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A possible game-changer took place Tuesday in one of New York City’s biggest murder trials.
A suspect in the killing of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz became a key witness, putting his life on the line and even trembling while telling his version of events in the “Justice for Junior” murder trial.
That key witness is Kevin Alvarez, who made a plea deal with the Bronx DA. Tuesday it was revealed in court that he previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy charges, but many gasped upon learning that after he cooperates, he probably won’t have to serve any more time in jail.
Nearly a year after Alvarez’s arrest, he’s testifying in court against five of his fellow alleged Trinitarios gang members. They are on trial for Junior’s murder – a case of mistaken identity. He was thought to be in the rival Sunset gang.
The 15-year-old was dragged from a bodega and stabbed to death.
Alvarez, trembling, said Junior fought back and told them he wasn’t in the Sunset gang, reported CBS2’s Lisa Rozner. Alvarez said right after the attack, the group looked at a photo of the Sunsets and “when I looked at the picture, I didn’t see the kid we chased and stabbed.”
The Bronx assistant district attorney again played the now-infamous video showing Alvarez drag Junior out of a bodega on East 183rd Street in the Belmont section, and alleged gang members stabbing him with knives and a machete.
Prosecutors made a deal with Alvarez: If he testifies truthfully, he’ll only be sentenced to time served for conspiracy, and the manslaughter charge he pleaded guilty to could be vacated.
“He has what’s called a ‘re-pleader,’ which means you plead guilty to two separate charges, one more serious than the other,” explained Chris Carrion, a criminal defense attorney. “If conditions ar emet, you come back at the day of sentencing, and that serious charge gets withdrawn.”
Carrion says even with the deak, he expected at least of couple of years in prison for Alvarez.
In another development, just after court let out, a defendant’s family member cursed at Junior’s mother, who was taken away immediately by court officers, Rozner reported.
Cross examination continues Thursday.