Anthony Carlo's Junior Trial Notes for Day 10

Looking awkward, uncomfortable and nervous, 21-year-old Yudelvi Mena took the witness stand at the Bronx County Hall of Justice Tuesday to testify against five men accused of murdering Lesandro “Junior” Guzman Feliz. If that wasn’t difficult enough, she had to provide incriminating testimony about one of those men, Elvin Garcia, who she had once dated.
The med student says she started dating Garcia, AKA Rabia, in April of last year. She testified that she knew he was a member of the Los Sures set of the Trinitarios during their relationship.
Garcia called Mena to come to his apartment the night of June 20, 2018, Mena said. She took a cab there and when she arrived she saw her boyfriend standing outside of his home with Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, who refused to show up to court Tuesday, and Frederick Then who is part of the second group of defendants awaiting trial.
Mena testified that Garcia had a tank top wrapped around his bleeding hand at the time. “His hand, he had a hole basically,” she said. Mena went with Garcia to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan to be treated for his injury. He would not tell her how he got hurt, but instructed her on what to say when cops arrived to question him, Mena testified.
“That he got into a fight at the park because of me,” Mena said describing what Garcia told her to say to police, explaining how she helped her boyfriend at the time file a false police report about an attack on him at a Manhattan Park, before identifying Garcia in court at the request of Assistant Bronx District Attorney, Morgan Dolan.
Kevin Alvarez previously testifying that he heard Manuel Rivera apologize to Garcia the night of Junior’s stabbing for accidentally stabbing him during the attack on Junior, and that’s how Garcia wound up with a hole through his hand.
Garcia told Mena to tell police his attackers were wearing sweatpants, according to her testimony – even though she wasn’t there to see the false “attack” Garcia was telling her about to try to draw attention away from what really happened to him.
“I don’t know, he told me, I don’t know,” Mena nervously testified when asked why she told police the story Garcia was giving her, even though she wasn’t there. After Garcia received stitches on June 21st, both he and Mena watched the bodega surveillance video of the fatal attack on Junior that started circulating the Internet.
“He just told me that was him and he pointed at the image,” Mena testified – telling the jury that Garcia pointed himself out in the video as one of the stabbers as they watched the video together.
During a sidebar with the lawyers, Mena puts her hands on her head and her head on the table in front of her, looking defeated after delivering her testimony.
“The intention was to hurt the person who got killed and not kill him,” Mena testified when court resumed, explaining what Garcia had told her about the gang attack on Junior.
Mena went with Garcia to Philadelphia to stay with his uncle for a couple of days after the stabbing. They both returned to New York after Garcia got a phone call from a detective asking him to come into a Manhattan precinct where they separated Garcia and Mena into two rooms to ask questions. Mena testified that police detained Garcia and sent her to a precinct in the Bronx.
After lunch, Julianne Henry, a Crime Scene Unit detective, was called to testify. Henry processed a 2011 white Acura for evidence pertaining to the ‘Junior’ stabbing. The car was in the possession of Michael “Sosa” Reyes, Henry testified. Police swabbed what appeared to be blood stains in the car, according to Henry.
Police found a box cutter in the middle console, Henry testified. Earlier in the day, detective Carlos Pantoja, also from the NYPD Crime Scene Unit, testified that a 2009 black Acura, operated by Gabriel Ramirez Concepcion, was also tested for what appeared to be blood stains inside the car.
Detective Anthony Garofalo from the NYPD Crime Scene Unit testified that a knife was discovered in a lot adjacent to suspected gang leader Diego Suero’s building on Boston Road, after the stabbing. Prosecutors showed pictures of the weapon, what appeared to be a kitchen knife with a 5-inch blade, to the jury. The knife was broken in half.
Toni Messina, who represents Manuel Rivera, cross-examined Garofalo pressing him on what other locations at Suero’s home were investigated. To his knowledge, only the lot was investigated, and the kitchen knife was all anyone found. Garofalo testified that he wasn’t sure how that knife got into the lot or who put it there.
Garofalo was also not aware of whether or not the police lab connected this knife to the crime scene of Junior’s stabbing after further testing.
Santiago and Jose Muniz, two of the five defendants, refused to show up to court, Tuesday. Originally Garcia was also refusing to attend the proceedings, but wound up coming, according to a source with inside knowledge of the trial.
The defendants have the right to be present for their trial and are required to be there, but cannot be forced, according to criminal defense lawyer Chris Carrion who has been weighing in on this trial. The trial can proceed without them. Their lawyers were present.
“The judge has issued Parker warnings previously,” Carrion said. “So they can’t be forced and trial can continue.”
The defendants who choose not to attend cannot be held in contempt because they did not willfully violate a court order, Carrion said.
Both Santiago and Muniz recorded a video message for the court explaining why they did not want to join the proceedings, Tuesday, according to Judge Robert Neary who called the message “genuine.”
The press was not privy to the contents of the message. A source with knowledge about the trial says Garcia was trying to change lawyers because he was unhappy with Edward Schneider’s performance. At the end of the day, Judge Neary asked Garcia if everything was ok between them, and Garcia appeared to have changed his mind, saying, “yes.”
Junior’s dad, Lisandro Guzman, showed up for the first half of the day, escorted in by two members of law enforcement. Leandra Feliz, Junior’s mom, was not there.
We are anticipating witness testimony from Michael “Sosa” Reyes at one point, but it is unclear when he will take the stand.
The trial resumes Thursday.