Antonio Cullal used machete to kill victim after luring him into Preserve
MINEOLA, N. Y. – The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office announced that a Hempstead man was sentenced today to 20 years to life in prison for his role in the 2017 murder of Julio Cesar Espantzay-Gonzales in the Massapequa Park Preserve.
Antonio Cullal, 26, a/k/a Duke, pleaded guilty on June 15, 2021 before Judge Helene Gugerty to murder in the second degree (an A-I felony) and conspiracy in the second degree (a B felony). The defendant was sentenced today to 20 years to life in prison.
“Antonio Cullal and other MS-13 gang members followed the orders they were given by the gang hierarchy and killed Julio Cesar Espantzay-Gonzales simply because the gang believed he was their ‘enemy,’” said Acting DA Joyce Smith. “They lured the unassuming 19-year old to the Massapequa Park Preserve, viciously hacked him to death with a machete, and abandoned his body in the brush. I thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of yet another tragic and unconscionable gang murder.”
According to the investigation, 19-year old Espantzay-Gonzales was reported missing on January 31, 2017. On March 23, 2017, his body was found by a dogwalker in the Massapequa Park Preserve. The victim was allegedly lured to the woods on January 28, 2017 by Kevin Granados-Coreas and others with promises of sex and marijuana.
Once in the preserve, Cullal, Granados-Coreas a/k/a Lonely, Raul Ponce a/k/a Shadow and Gerson Stanley Jaurez a/k/a Angel Black, allegedly hacked Espantzay-Gonzales to death with machetes. They later disposed of the body under tree branches, leaves, and other brush.
According to the indictment, Carlos Portillo a/k/a/ Pikachu and Roberto Abrego-Reyes, a/k/a Splinter, allegedly ordered the murder of Espantzay-Gonzales because he was perceived to be an enemy of the gang.
Cullal was arrested in Maryland on October 4, 2017 by members of the Nassau County Police Department and the U.S. Marshals.
The cases against Portillo, Granados-Coreas, Ponce, and Abrego-Reyes are pending.
Jared Rosenblatt, Chief of the Homicide Bureau, and Deputy Chief Katie Zizza and Senior Assistant District Attorney Christopher Casa of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau prosecuted the case. The defendant is represented by William Shanahan, Esq.
The charges against the other defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.