A former student in the Bronx has been found guilty of manslaughter, assault, and possession of a weapon, a judge rejecting a defense centered around allegations of constant anti-gay bullying.
Abel Cedeno was an 18-year-old senior at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in 2017 when a fight broke out between himself and two other classmates. Cedeno, who has since come out as bisexual, pulled a knife, which his attorneys said he was carrying because he had been a frequent target of bullying and feared for his safety. During the ensuing melee, which another student filmed with their phone, Cedeno stabbed 15-year-old Matthew McCree in the chest, killing him. He also stabbed then-16-year-old Ariane LaBoy.
Cedeno’s confession included an admission that he did not know McCree or LaBoy well before the incident, and that he didn’t have problems with them prior to the altercation,; although he did say a friend of his had allegedly had issues with the two boys.
LaBoy testified that Cedeno bumped his desk but that he ignored it. However, when one of the two boys tossed a balled-up piece of paper that landed near him, Cedeno went on the offensive, said LaBoy, who maintained that they hadn’t thrown the object in the other student’s direction intentionally.
Cedeno’s defense team waived a jury trial in favor of allowing a state judge to decide the young man’s fate. They feared they wouldn’t get a fair trial otherwise, citing potential homophobia among would-be jurors. On Monday, Cedeno was found guilty on all charges. He is facing up to 50 years in prison.
The victim’s family celebrated the ruling, saying justice had been granted, while Cedeno’s mother, Luz Hernandez, cried as her son was handcuffed and led out of court, The New York Times reports.
Sentencing is set for September 10.