Anthony Carlo's Notes for Junior Trial Day 14
JUNIOR TRIAL DAY 14: THE DEFENSE HAMMERS MICHAEL “SOSA” REYES AND JUNIOR’S MOM AGREES TO STAY OUT OF COURTROOM
(REYES SPEAKS THROUGH A TRANSLATOR)
All five defendants were in court for day 2 of cross-examination of Michael “Sosa” Reyes. Defense lawyer Kyle Watters starts out by questioning Reyes on the order he says he received the night of Junior’s murder to “do what you have to do,” to Sunset.
“After hearing that order you willingly got in your car to go look for Sunsets,” Watters asked. “Yes, sir,” Reyes responded.
Watters then starts questioning Reyes about his friend Danilo Payamps Pacheco AKA Philly who he says was not officially a ‘Bad Boy’ member of the Trinitarios at the time of Junior’s death. “If he’s with us he’s going to do what he’s doing with us. In his case he was never officially a Bad Boy, never got his papers,” Reyes testified.
“Were you once a full bad boy,” Watters asked. “Yes, sir,” Reyes responded. Watters asks Reyes what he had to do to become a ‘Bad Boy.’ “I had to fight with some Latin King guys that were in my school…to demonstrate that I didn’t have any fear in my heart to be a member of the Trinitarios.”
Watters moved on to the gang’s search for Sunset members the night of Junior’s death. Reyes previously testified in this trial that he was driving one of four cars in the Little Italy section of the Bronx, Sunset territory, when they came upon Junior. “You hear them yell out at him, ‘Sunset, Sunset, Sunset!” Watters asked. “Sunset popo,” Reyes responded. “And then you hear a response back from Junior,” Watters asked. “Yes, sir,” Reyes testified.
“Que lo seven,” Reyes said. “Do you see him do anything else?” Watters asked. “Raise his hand,” Reyes testified. “At the moment, I thought that he thought it was his friends,” Reyes testified.
Watters recalled Reyes’ transcript of his Grand Jury testimony from June 28, 2018. “You testify they yell at him ‘Sunset, Sunsets…three times to see if he was going to reply back. He did reply back. He said, ‘que lo siete,’ two times. He went to “peace” and then he saw that they weren’t going to peace him, they wanted to fight him for something. He started running. These were your words…?”
“Yes, sir,” Reyes testified. “What did you mean by that?” Watters asked. “Junior was going to salute to them because he thought they were somebody else,” Reyes responded.
“He was acknowledging he was a Sunset…” Watters said. Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dolan objects and the judge sustains. “You did everything you could…to grab him and stop him,” Watters cross examines Reyes’ on his involvement in the pursuit of Junior. “Yes, sir,” Reyes responds. “You did that because based on what he did, you believed he was a Sunset member,” Watters examined. “Yes, sir,” Reyes testified.
“You made the choice, you wanted to go after this kid and chase him,” said Watters. “Yes, sir,” Reyes responded.
“You turned to Philly and said, ‘get him, grab him!,’” Watters asked. “Yes, sir,” Reyes responds. “You saw he had a knife more than 12 inches in length,” Watters says when describing the weapon his client Jonaiki Martinez-Estrella is accused of holding. “Yes, sir,” Reyes said.
“It was clear to you other people outside the bodega had weapons that could hurt this person,” Watters said. “I only saw one weapon…I don’t know how many inches but I saw it was long,” Reyes testified.
“Everything I did in the bodega I did voluntarily myself,” Reyes said. “You still went in and tried to do everything you could to get the boy Junior from inside the bodega to outside,” Watters proposes.
When asking about Reyes’ decision to leave the bodega after not being able to get to Junior who was hiding behind the counter he says, “I’m the type of man who gives up easily.”
Reyes previously testifying in this trial that he saw the fear in Junior’s face and recognized him which is why he decided to leave. “While you were in there, after seeing the knife, you still made all the efforts you could to get Junior outside the bodega,” Watters asked. “Yes, sir,” Reyes responded.
“Did you take steps to get everyone to stop?” Watters asked. “I made an attempt…to tell Sures that were there to go away from there because there’s cameras,” Reyes testified. Watters pulled up video of the gang members standing outside the bodega. Reyes can be seen standing in the middle of the street next to Estrella.
“Do you remember meeting a person at a high school who lived on this block?” Watters is referring to a woman who testified on seeing the stabbing from an upper apartment window earlier in the trial. Reyes denies this and also denies telling the gang to “drag” Junior out because there were cameras in the store.
Watters brings up the statement Reyes alleges Estrella made when sitting in the back of his getaway car: “He’s not going to eat for a good long time because I hit him in the neck.”
“You’re not trying to make him look bad by putting words in his mouth?” Watters asked. “No, sir,” Reyes replied.
Watters references a transcript from the June 28 Grand Jury testimony Reyes delivered pointing out that he said, “they were just sitting down with their heads down.” Watters continued to read a question from that court date: “did at any point they say anything in your car?” “No,” Reyes previously testified, which contradicts the gruesome accusations he made on direct examination in this trial, Friday.
Reyes reveals that he went home to his wife and child after witnessing Junior’s death. “You say, I’m getting out of here and I’m going to flee because I was involved in a murder,” Watters asked. “No, sir,” Reyes responds. Watters asks why Reyes was not able to reach his mother by phone instead of flying to the Dominican Republic. Reyes says she did not pick up.
Reyes testified that after he got home he found out Junior died from social media. He said he first saw the videos the next day when he was already in DR. When asked how his mom reacted to the news Reyes said, “she fell back.”
When testifying on the plea deal he was offered, Reyes said, “all of us are helping each other.”
Leandra Feliz, Junior’s mother informs me that she agreed with the DA to watch the remainder of the trial from an “overflow” room in the courthouse. On Tuesday, Feliz had an outburst while listening to Reyes’ testimony. The defense motioned for other arrangements to be made so that she does not sway the jury by her actions, which could result in a mistrial.
Toni Messina, the lawyer for Manuel Rivera, steps up. Reyes previously testified he had received a call from Rivera while he was at a baseball field on June 20, 2018 for him to go to alleged gang leader Diego Suero’s house. “Every time he spoke with the Grand Jury, the prosecutor…you said the phone call came from Manuel,” Messina points out.
“What did Manuel say to you?” Messina asks. “Manuel did not call me,” Reyes responds revealing an inconsistency in his previous testimony. Messina tells Reyes that he gave a detailed description of what Manuel said to him on the phone in previous testimony. “That was my truth at the time,” Reyes responds. “There was confusion because of the phone call I received from Manuel the day before and everything that was going on.”
Reyes has to stop and speak to his translator in English to clarify what he is saying in Spanish. Reyes reveals it was Flaco Loco, the Bad Boys’ boss, who received the phone call at the field, while they were together, to head to Suero’s home.
“I want you to understand that everything that I said mistakenly was because of everything going on I was confused,” Reyes testified.
Messina pulls up a transcript of a conversation between an assistant DA and himself on June 23, three days after the murder. Question: “Do you have any affiliation with the Trinitarios.” Answer: “I am not going to lie to you…in high school I knew a lot of Trinitarios. Question: “Did you ever roll with them?” “Answer: no, no, no.” “I misunderstood the question at the time,” Reyes says trying to defend himself. “I was not confused I was lost with everything going on…” When asked about his conversations with the DA about testifying in this trial Reyes says, “They didn’t want to hear anything, they just wanted to hear the truth.”
Reyes acknowledges that although he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the chance his conviction is dropped in exchange for truthful testimony, he will still be in a danger of getting killed.
It is revealed that Reyes is not a U.S. Citizen which means his plea agreement will allow for no rap sheet which means he’ll be in less danger of being deported. Reyes is asked about why he was kicked out of the Trinitarios in April of 2018. “I had personal problems with the bad boys…I was trying to get back my position in the Bad Boys,” Reyes explaining why he went on the mission June 20.
Reyes says, “que lo siete,” is a specific Trinitario greeting. This is what he alleges Junior said when the gang approached him. “Junior was throwing the Patria,” Messina points out Reyes testified in front of a Grand Jury on June 28.
“I misinterpreted that question, he put up his hand and when he said 7, I thought he was throwing the sign.”
“Did you ever hear anyone say, ‘1090,’” Messina asks regarding the conversation the gang had with Junior.
“Did you ever hear there was an order to kill Junior?” “No.” “If you chose to leave the scene (of the stabbing) would you have been disciplined?” “By the Bad Boys, yes.”
Amy Attias, who represents Antonio Santiago, starts to question Reyes about why he was kicked out of the gang last April. “Two problems with women and the last one was over the sale of a car.” Reyes says the gang was about to green light him, or kill him over these issues. From April to June, Reyes was trying to get his position back. The gang did not trust him at this time.
Reyes says his gang was going out for a fistfight the night of Junior’s death and was shocked when someone was killed. Reyes met Santiago in 2016. He would see Santiago, at the time a Sunset Trinitario, at the park.
“You never saw my client stab Junior?” Attias asks. “No,” says Reyes.
Martin Goldberg, who represents Jose Muniz, steps up asking Reyes again about what Junior did when he was approached in Belmont. “After Junior said que lo siete, he threw the Patria sign.” “No, sir,” Reyes replies.
Goldberg pulls up Grand Jury testimony from August. “I saw Junior look behind and said que lo siete, throwing the Patria sign.”
“You didn’t intend to cause serious physical injury that could result in death…” Goldberg asks. “No,” Reyes says.
“You were willing to admit to a homicide you didn’t do because the DA wanted you to,
“I declared my guilt.” Reyes said.