Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Self-Proclaimed Gang Member Key Witness in ‘Junior’ Murder Trial Testifies For a Second Day, Says He Fears For His Life for Cooperating

What to Know

  • Self-proclaimed gang member testified for a second day in trial of five alleged gang members accused of killing a teen in a machete attack
  • People in a Bronx courtroom gasped today when they learned the state’s star witness, Kevin Alvarez, could get off because of his testimony
  • Alvarez testified against five alleged gang members, saying doing so could cost him his life

The self-proclaimed gang member who testified Monday in the trial of five alleged gang members accused of killing a teen in a machete attack last summer took the stand for a second day Tuesday.

People in a Bronx courtroom gasped today when they learned the state’s star witness could get off because of his testimony.

As the five defendants accused of murder looked on, their former buddy took the stand for a second day to testify against them.

Prosecutors say they’re all Trinatarios gang members and they were the ones who chased and murdered an innocent 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz in June of 2018.

Prosecutors said the men attacked the Guzman-Feliz with knives and a machete and left him to die on the sidewalk. Investigators think that the men thought the teen was a member of a rival gang in a case of mistaken identity.

From the stand Tuesday Kevin Alvarez walked jurors through video from that night identifying people in it including who swung a machete and who plunged a knife into the teen.

Afterwards, he explained speaking so openly could cost him his life.

“If you do something as bad as snitching they go out and look for you in groups and kill you”, Alvarez said.

The terms of the deal are if Alvarez lies on the stand, he’ll get 25 years behind bars. However, if he tells the truth, he could get off with time served.

Alvarez pleaded guilty to two charges conspiracy and manslaughter.

He has to testify against 14 people as part of the deal.

The defense should get a chance to question him Thursday.

Guzman-Feliz’s vicious killing shocked not only the city but the nation for its caught-on-camera brutality that showed the teenager being dragged outside the bodega and set upon by a gang of men who hacked at him as he struggled to defend himself. The boy was slashed in the neck and died after running to a hospital three blocks away.

The much-anticipated trial kicked off May 6 with opening statements during which prosecutors described the teen's killing as a calculated and planned murder by the five suspects.

Guzman-Feliz had been part of the NYPD's Explorers program, a group for youths interested in a law enforcement career. The New York City Police Foundation announced it planned to set up a scholarship in his name.

Since the violent attack, the community’s outpouring of love and support has been seen in a mural. Guzman-Feliz’s memory has also been honored through the renaming of a street and a summer camp at a state park, as well as prompting the “Safe Haven Bodega” program in the city.

Contact Us