HEMPSTEAD

Prison for fatal stabbing

behind village laundry

A Hempstead man who stabbed another man repeatedly, inflicting a fatal puncture wound to his heart, is going to prison for 25 years to life in connection with the 2013 attack, authorities said.

A Nassau judge yesterday sentenced Luis Moreno, 38, following his June conviction on a second-degree murder charge and a weapon charge in the death of Darwin Hernandez, 28, of Hempstead.

Prosecutors said Moreno unleashed a vicious attack on March 2, 2013, behind a Clinton Street laundry business as Hernandez tried to defend himself. Hernandez suffered stab wounds to his chest, hand, abdomen, groin and head, said the Nassau County district attorney's office. Authorities said they never found the murder weapon.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Groder said Moreno plans to appeal the verdict. "Since the beginning of the case, he's always been consistent in his position that he was defending himself and he maintained that position at the sentencing," he said.

The Mineola lawyer said evidence showed his client told police he gave Hernandez money for food or drinks, and a confrontation between the friends kicked off when Hernandez returned with nothing.

Moreno also told police the stabbing happened after Hernandez became aggressive and reached toward his waistband, Groder said. Hernandez was unarmed, according to prosecutors.

HEMPSTEAD

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Man accused in girlfriend's

murder pleads not guilty

A man who's accused of murdering his girlfriend by slashing her neck after an argument in their Hempstead apartment pleaded not guilty yesterday following a grand jury indictment.

Prosecutors said Alan Espinoza, 26, remains jailed without bail on a second-degree murder charge and a weapon possession charge in connection with the June death of Neyvin Espinal, 24.

Espinal was a waitress in a Hempstead cafe, and worked hard to send money home to family in Honduras that included her 7-year-old daughter, her former boss has said.

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Police have said Espinoza and Espinal, whose body a female roommate found June 20 before calling 911, had been dating for a couple of months and living together about a month. Authorities alleged the defendant used a "razor blade type of cutter" to kill the victim.

Espinoza's attorney, Joseph Lo Piccolo of Garden City, said he was investigating the case and planning a vigorous defense to the charges.

CENTRAL ISLIP

SPCA suspects animal

killings were ritualistic

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The Suffolk County SPCA is investigating the Sunday discovery of what possibly is the tongue of a large animal as part of a series of ritualistic animal killings.

The group said yesterday the "severely decomposed part of an animal," was bound to a tree in Central Islip woods, the fourth such discovery since June 24. It was in a lot on Wilson Boulevard, hanging from a tree, wrapped in a black shirt, a news release said.

SPCA Chief Roy Gross said last Thursday his agency's $1,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction in the case is being matched by the The New York State Humane Society. "Unjustifiably slaughtering an animal is a crime and will not be tolerated," he said. The agency also said yesterday that it is looking for volunteer investigators due to a surge in animal cruelty cases, specifically ritualistic killings.