What to Know
- Attorneys for the Bronx teen accused of stabbing his classmates in 2017 said it was self-defense, but prosecution says it was intentional
- In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors said that Abel Cedeño had brandished the knife in social media postings days before the fatal brawl
- Cedeño's team said that he was simply defending himself and was tired after years of enduring bullying because he's gay
Attorneys for the Bronx teen accused of stabbing his classmates in 2017 said that he was tired of being bullied after years of abuse, and the knife used was in self-defense — but the prosecution says the defendant had every intention of breaking out that weapon.
In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors said that Abel Cedeño had brandished the knife in social media postings days before the fatal brawl, showing he meant to use it in the classroom that day.
The prosecution also said the victims, 15-year-old Matthew McCree (who later died) and Arian Laboy, were not the students who had bullied Cedeño at all, saying they were victims of a planned rampage.
Cedeño's team said that he was simply defending himself. After court concluded on Friday, Cedeño's family and attorneys did not speak to reporters.
While on the stand Thursday, 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.
"I yelled, whoever threw that is a (expletive)," he testified. "Matthew got up and said 'it was me'... he pushed Mr. Jacoby to get to me. I used my right hand to take out the knife."
The victim's mother, Louna Dennis, said her son wasn't a bully.
"Clearly the attempt to call Matthew McCree a bully is an attempt to dirty up the victim," the victim's family attorney Sanford Rubenstein said.
Originally, Cedeño was charged with murder in the death of McCree. He was indicted on a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter.
The verdict may come as early as Monday. If convicted, Cedeño faces up to 50 years in prison.