Kevin Shea, the Medford man who admitted punching Marcelo Lucero in the face before the Ecuadorean immigrant was fatally stabbed in Patchogue nearly two years ago, was sentenced Wednesday at the Suffolk County Courthouse in Riverhead to 8 years in prison.
When Shea, 18, pleaded guilty in February, State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle told him that he could face up to 10 years in prison. Doyle Wednesday rejected Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell's call for a 15-year sentence.
Before he was sentenced, Shea apologized to Lucero's family. Lucero's brother, Joselo, was in court.
"This crime never should have happened," Shea said.
Shea and six other teens surrounded Marcelo Lucero, 37, of Patchogue, and a friend, Angel Loja, and shouted ethnic slurs at them near the Patchogue train station on Nov. 8, 2008. Lucero was stabbed by Jeffrey Conroy, 19, of Medford, and died early the next morning.
Lucero's death helped prompt an ongoing federal probe of Suffolk police investigations of crimes against Hispanics.
Conroy is serving a 25-year prison term after being convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.
Shea, who pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault and other charges, pretended to have a gun and ordered the other teens to surround Lucero and Loja, O'Donnell said.
"Kevin Shea is the second most culpable" of the seven teens, O'Donnell said.
Joselo Lucero, 37, told reporters he was disappointed with Shea's sentence, but added: "We respect the judge's decision, and there's nothing we can do about it."
District Attorney Thomas Spota defended the harsher sentence recommended by O'Donnell but called Doyle "a very fair sentencing judge."
"We respect that decision," Spota said. "We don't particularly like it, but we always respect it."
Shea's attorney, Steven Politi of Central Islip, Wednesday accused Spota of grandstanding by requesting a longer sentence.
"It's the game they play to show the media and the public that they're tough," Politi told reporters.
Spota denied the charge and said 15 years would have been a fair sentence for Shea.
"If we were going to posture for the media . . . we would have asked for 25 years," he said.
Besides Shea, five other teens have pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault and other crimes.
Jose Pacheco, 19, of East Patchogue, and Jordan Dasch and Anthony Hartford, both 19 and of Medford, each were sentenced Aug. 25 to 7 years in prison. Christopher Overton, 18, of East Patchogue, was sentenced the same day to 6 years in prison.
Nicholas Hausch, 18, of Medford, is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 14.