This week the authorities announced the indictment of 15 more members of the same gang, accusing them of carrying out attacks with machetes, knives and fists in Upper Manhattan.
Lesandro’s father, Lisandro Guzman, told the court that since his son’s murder he has struggled to sleep. Weekends have become a “battle to stay busy” for him because those were the days he used to spend with his son. “You will never have the ability to understand the pain you have caused,” Mr. Guzman told the convicted men.
Before his sentencing, Mr. Martinez apologized to Leandro’s family in Spanish. “It was not my intention to cause the death of this kid, but that day I was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and I did not know what I was doing,” he said.
Justice Neary, however, was unmoved and gave him the maximum penalty. “Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” he said. “Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often comes to my mind is cowardly.”
“You and your fellow gang members chased down and slaughtered a 15-year-old, defenseless boy in the most gruesome manner, and we in this courtroom had the misfortune of witnessing it on tape,” the judge said.
Arguing for leniency, the defense lawyers described the mesmerizing pull of gang life for young men like their clients, who they said came from troubled families and had found in the Trinitarios a group in which they felt valued and protected for the first time. The gang has provided the men with money, status and protection in return for their unflinching loyalty in carrying out orders from their superiors.
Mr. Rivera’s lawyer, Toni Messina , said her client was too young to fully comprehend what he was doing. “He was 18 years old and was seduced by the cult,” she said.