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Posted on: June 24, 2021

MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty for December 2018 Murder in Lawrence

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Elmer Gutierrez also conspired with co-defendants to murder perceived gang rival in Far Rockaway

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith announced today that an MS-13 member pleaded guilty yesterday for his role in a December 2018 murder spree in Queens and Nassau counties.  

Elmer Gutierrez, 21, a/k/a Revolver, from Valley Stream, pleaded guilty before Judge Tammy Robbins to murder in the second degree (an A-I felony) and conspiracy in the first degree (an A-I felony). The defendant is expected to be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison on August 10, 2021. The NCDA recommended a sentence of 31 years to life in prison. 

Co-defendant Yonathan Sanchez was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison in July 2020. 

“Elmer Gutierrez and his co-defendants methodically planned the murder of Ian Cruz for allegedly disrespecting MS-13,” Acting DA Smith said. “Just two days later, Gutierrez sliced the neck of 17-year old Harold Sermeno with a machete after the victim was shot multiple times. This senseless violence has no place in our community, and I thank our partners at the NYPD, NCPD, Queens District Attorney’s Office and FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for helping solve these two murders.” 

The case against co-defendant, Carlos Guerra, 21, is pending. 

The cases against two juveniles, an 18-year old male (15 at the time of the crime) and a 15-year old female (13 at the time of the crime) are also pending. They were charged with Murder in the Second Degree for both incidents. Another defendant (15 at the time of the crime) pled guilty to one count of Murder in the Second Degree and will be sentenced to 8-1/2 years to life prison. 

Acting DA Smith said that, according to the indictment, on December 15, 2018, 23-year old Far Rockaway resident Ian Cruz, a perceived enemy of MS-13, was lured to Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway with the promise of drugs and sex. The victim met the female defendant and then walked to the park, while Sanchez, allegedly Guerra and a 15-year old male defendant hid in the park armed with knives. Sanchez emerged from the bushes and shot Cruz four times in the head with a .22 caliber revolver. 

The defendants took Cruz’s belongings and fled to a Nameoke Street apartment where Sanchez and Guerra lived. 

The defendants planned Cruz’s murder and photographs of Cruz allegedly disrespecting MS-13 were circulated among them. Gutierrez helped plan Cruz’s killing, but was unable to be there on the night of the murder.   

Cruz was found by a park-goer the following day, in his underwear and on top of a blanket. 

On the evening of December 17, 2018, victim Harold Sermeno, 17, of Far Rockaway, was lured to the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence. The victim and the female defendant arrived at a park on the property and began to drink and smoke at a picnic table. At that point, the five other defendants, armed with a gun and knives, waited in strategic areas in the park. Sanchez then emerged and shot Sermeno four times in the head and once in the chest with a .22 revolver. Gutierrez sliced the victim’s neck with a machete. 

The six defendants then allegedly fled to the same apartment in Far Rockaway. 

Sermeno was found the following morning by a person walking a dog. 

Police officers recovered the machete that was allegedly used in the murder of Sermeno and a .22 caliber revolver that was used in both murders at the Nameoke apartment. 

Sanchez, Guerra, Gutierrez and two juveniles were arrested on December 20, 2018 in Far Rockaway by members of the NYPD. The sixth defendant, a juvenile, was arrested on December 28, 2018, by members of the NYPD and NCPD. 

The Acting District Attorney thanks the New York Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Queens County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for their assistance in this case. 

Senior Litigation Counsel Stefanie Palma of the Homicide Bureau is prosecuting this case. Gutierrez is represented by Greg Madey, Esq.

The charges against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.

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