MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that four MS-13 members have been indicted for their roles in the machete murder of a Uniondale teenager in Massapequa Park Preserve in 2016.
Christian Rodriguez, 22, also known as Estricto of Hempstead, and Jeustin David Maldonado, 20, also known as Muerte, of Uniondale, were indicted on charges of Murder in the Second Degree (an A-I felony), Conspiracy in the First Degree (an A-I felony) and Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony). Rodriguez was arraigned before Judge Helene Gugerty today and Maldonado was arraigned before Judge Gugerty on January 17. Both defendants were remanded and due back in court on February 10.
Raul Ponce, 21, also known as Shadow and Little Shadow, of Hempstead, and Gerson Stanley Juarez, 23, also known as Angel Black and Siniestro, of Hempstead, were also charged in this indictment – 2060N-2019 – with Conspiracy in the First Degree (an A-I felony) and Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony). Ponce and Juarez were previously charged with Murder in the Second Degree for Lemus’ murder in an earlier indictment. Ponce was arraigned January 17, was remanded and is due back in court on February 19. Juarez was arraigned January 17, was remanded and is due back in court on February 11.
The four defendants, if convicted of the charges in this case, face a potential maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison to life.
“An 18-year old was simply walking his dog when he was invited to the park to smoke marijuana, but what he did not know is that members of MS-13 perceived him to be an enemy of the gang,” DA Singas said. “When Bryan Lemus arrived, he was lured into the park by people he believed to be his friends and violently hacked with machetes by multiple MS-13 members. I thank our partners at the Nassau County Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their assistance in this case and the fight against MS-13 in Nassau County.”
DA Singas said that on August 23, 2016, victim Bryan Steven Cho Lemus, a perceived enemy of MS-13, was walking his dog on Arthur Street in Uniondale, when he was lured into the Massapequa Preserve with the promise of a party with drugs and sex. While inside the park, Lemus was allegedly killed with machetes by Rodriguez, Maldonado, Raul Ponce, Juarez, Samuel Ponce and others.
On May 24, 2019, NCPD Homicide Squad detectives, while canvassing Massapequa Park Preserve in search of Lemus’ body, discovered human remains. Those remains were positively identified as Lemus on June 3, 2019.
Raul Ponce’s brother, Samuel Ponce, 18, also known as Little Chickie, of Hempstead, was previously indicted for the murder. He faces a potential maximum of 15 years to life in prison.
The investigation into the homicide is ongoing.
Deputy Chief Jared Rosenblatt of DA Singas’ Major Offense Bureau and Senior Assistant District Attorney Patrick Brand of DA Singas’ Special Operations, Narcotics and Gangs Bureau are prosecuting this case. Rodriguez is represented by William Kephart, Esq, Raul Ponce is represented by Dennis O’Brien, Esq, Juarez is represented by Gregory Madey, Esq., Maldonado is represented by Dana Grossblatt, Esq. and Samuel Ponce is represented by Dennis Lemke, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.