A member of the MS-13 street gang testified Wednesday that he had taken part in the killing of a Brentwood man and the serious wounding of another man, both of whom he did not know, in order to establish his credibility with other gang members.
Jimmy Sosa, 22, of Brentwood, said in federal district court in Central Islip through a Spanish interpreter that he had lured David Sandler, 20, of Brentwood, to a street in the community in February 2010, ostensibly to buy some marijuana from him, so that a ranking member of the gang, Carlos Ortega, could shoot him to death.
Ortega and another MS-13 leader, Heriberto Martinez, are on trial in connection with a total of five killings.
Sandler was mistakenly believed to be a member of the rival Latin Kings gang, federal officials have said.
But Sandler was a marijuana dealer, and he called him to arrange to buy some "weed," Sosa testified under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham.
Sandler's brother-in-law, Aaron Galan, 23, also showed up for the supposed marijuana buy, Sosa said.
As Sandler took a $20 bill for the marijuana from his hand, Sosa said, Ortega first fatally shot him and then shot Galan.
Sandler's mother, Clairbel Fiallo, wept in the courtroom as Sosa described the killing of her son.
Afterward she said, "I don't feel like saying anything."
Sosa said he had taken part in the violence along with Ortega "to prove ourselves" because they had both been gang members in El Salvador but were not known to local MS-13 members on Long Island.
Sosa said he has pleaded guilty to murder in the Sandler case and attempted murder in the Galan case and that he is testifying for the government in hopes of getting a lesser sentence than the life term he faces.
Sosa said he also hopes to be allowed to stay in the United States and become a protected witness for his cooperation.
Under questioning by one of Ortega's lawyers, Ira London, Sosa denied that he was the one who had actually done the shootings.
But Sosa said that if he hadn't participated, other MS-13 members would have killed him.
"They weren't sure about me," Sosa said. "I didn't know if David Sandler had a family. I didn't know him. I was looking out for myself."