NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Bronx teen has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for stabbing one classmate to death and wounding another.
Prosecutors said he stabbed 15-year-old Matthew McCree to death in September 2017 when a fight broke out during history class at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the West Farms section.
He also stabbed 16-year-old Ariane Laboy, who survived.
Sentencing day for Cedeno was so traumatic his defense attorney say he couldn’t even stand.
Outside the courtroom, one of the victim’s mothers had to recompose herself after she started shrieking inside.
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“It’s like I was placed back there in the emergency room, the detectives coming in, telling me my son passed away. Just everything started to rush back in,” said Louna Dennis, McCree’s mother.
She said her son didn’t know Cedeno.
In court, Cedeno apologized for the first time, saying he took full responsibility. Minutes after he apologized to the victims’ families, the two groups got into a tussle outside.
After weighing multiple victim impact statements, the judge decided to sentence Cedeno as an adult, giving him 14 years in prison. The maximum sentence could have been 50.
“It should have been 50, but I’ll take 14, because guess what? He didn’t get youthful offender. So I’ll take 14,” Dennis said.
Throughout the trial, Cedeno adamantly maintained that he was protecting himself after being systematically bullied, saying, “it was psychological abuse for being gay” and he feared for his life. His attorney’s plan to appeal.
“All of the psychological evidence submitted to the court say no to all of that. He was a peaceful kid, a gentle kid, not a threat now, not a threat, never,” said defense attorney Christopher Lynn.
Both victims’ families have filed civil lawsuits against the Department of Education for not doing enough to ensure student safety. They spoke out after Cedeno was found guilty.
“The Department of Education has blood on its hands and needs now to look at the schools and safety of students,” said McCree’s family lawyer, Sanford Rubinstein.
The case prompted increased pressure for schools to use metal detectors and more rigorous reporting of bullying.
“We are going to continue to fight for justice and fight to correct the wrongs,” said attorney Matthew Blit.
“God is good, and justice has prevailed,” Laboy’s mother added.