What to Know
- Judge on Tuesday sentenced the Bronx teen found guilty of stabbing his classmates in 2017 at the Urban Assembly School
- Abel Cedeño was sentenced to 14 years in state prison and five years probation
- Sentence comes after Abel Cedeño, who waived his right to a jury trial, was found guilty on all counts -- manslaughter, weapons possession
A judge on Tuesday sentenced a Bronx teen to 14 years in state prison for stabbing two classmates, one fatally, in 2017 at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation -- prompting a melee to break out outside court.
The sentence comes after Abel Cedeño, who waived his right to a jury trial, was found guilty on all counts -- manslaughter, weapons possession and assault – in July.
The judge declined to give 19-year-old Cedeño youthful offender status and so the sentences will run concurrently for all three charges. Aside from the prison term he must serve, Cedeño's sentence also includes five years of probation. He had faced up to 50 years in prison.
Following the sentencing, Cedeño's attorneys said that they do not agree with the 14-year prison term and plan to appeal. They said their client could not stand up upon finding out his fate.
His attorneys initially requested Cedeño remain free until sentencing in order for him to receive psychiatric counseling and medication. The judge denied the request saying that could take place in prison.
Attorneys for Cedeño have argued that the teen was tired of being bullied after years of abuse, and the knife used was in self-defense -- a notion the prosecution has denied, arguing that Cedeño had every intention of breaking out the weapon.
In closing arguments, prosecutors said that the teen had brandished the knife in social media postings days before the fatal brawl, showing he meant to use it in the classroom that day.
During the trial, the prosecution also said the attack victims — 15-year-old Matthew McCree, who subsequently died, and Arian Laboy, a classmate who tried to intervene and was critically injured — were not the students who had bullied Cedeño at all but victims of a planned rampage.
Cedeño's team has maintained that he was simply defending himself.
The death of McCree was the first homicide inside a New York City school since 1993.
In the middle of victim impact statements on Tuesday, McCree's mother Louna Dennis left the courtroom screaming.
Hers was just one of the outbursts that took place Tuesday. A melee involving surviving victim Laboy broke out in the courthouse lobby after sentencing.
Laboy allegedly became involved in the altercation after hearing a comment that he should have died, too.
Video captured scenes from the courthouse incident, including one showing a person on the floor in handcuffs surrounded by multiple officers. At one point someone apparently could be heard yelling "Arian."
Laboy was not charged in the incident, according to a source.
In a press conference following the sentencing, accompanied by the victim's family attorney, Dennis said she screamed and left because everything started to flood back in.
The victim's family attorney Sanford Rubenstein said that the city's Department of Education needs to be held responsible and they plan on going to civil court.
While on the stand, 19-year-old Cedeño testified he endured years of bullying because he’s gay.
"They pulled my hair, they pushed me, called me derogatory gay slurs," he said.
Recalling the day McCree was stabbed to death, Cedeño said he remembered being attacked, holding the knife and swinging his arms, but he doesn’t remember stabbing anyone.
Cedeño didn't testify that McCree or Laboy were the ones who yelled anti-gay slurs at him but said they and others were throwing pencils, pen caps and balls of paper at him that day.
Police have previously said that McCree and Laboy had been throwing broken bits of pencils and paper at Cedeño's head during history class. Cedeno allegedly excused himself to go to the bathroom and returned with a switchblade knife which he plunged into McCree's chest and back. Laboy also was stabbed when he tried to intervene.