A Bronx teenager has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges in the stabbing death of a 15-year-old classmate in a Bronx classroom earlier this fall.
Abel Cedeno, 18, faced a judge Wednesday, about a month and a half after he allegedly stabbed Matthew McCree. Cedeno is accused of killing McCree and critically injuring 16-year-old Ariane Laboy.
Cedeno was charged with first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He was arraigned in a Bronx County court and held on $500,000 bail, an amount his attorneys want reduced. He's due back in court on Nov. 29.
Outside the courthouse, a group of people held “Justice for Matthew” signs. His mother was among them. She reacted to seeing her son’s accused killer for the first time.
“Cedeno’s parents can go visit him on his birthday,” Louna Dennis said. “You know where I gotta go to visit my son — for what would have been his 16th birthday? The cemetery.”
But the defense says the blame is on the Bronx high school the students attended, Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation. Attorneys say the school should have done more to intervene before the stabbing in late September.
Cedeno’s mother, Luz Hernandez, said she tried telling school officials her son was being bullied.
“Nobody helped us,” Hernandez said. “They ignored us — ‘Be a better person,’ that’s what they say to my son. Ignore and be a better person.”
Police said McCree and Laboy had been throwing broken bits of pencils and paper at Cedeno's head during history class on Sept. 27. Cedeno excused himself to go to the bathroom, and returned with a switchblade knife which he allegedly plunged into McCree's chest and back. Laboy also was stabbed when he tried to intervene, police said.
It was the first homicide inside a New York City school since 1993, when a spate of schoolyard killings prompted schools to install metal detectors. The West Farms school where McCree was killed did not have metal detectors.
McCree’s family and friends agree that the school is partly responsible for allowing the violence to take place inside the classroom, but maintain if Cedeno was being bullied it wasn’t by McCree or Laboy.
“My son was in his classroom, where I sent him, where he should have been safe, protected. And he was not,” Louna Dennis said.