An MS-13 member has admitted to fatally shooting a 16-year-old and taking part in the 2017 machete hacking death of a 22-year-old whom sources previously identified as a fellow gangster targeted for execution because he became a law enforcement informant.
Edar Ventura, 21, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of murder in a deal that will send him to prison for 32 years to life when he is sentenced April 10, prosecutors said Thursday.
Jury selection was underway in Ventura's trial in the December 2016 Uniondale shooting of teenage victim Alexon Moya when Ventura admitted to both slayings, according to his attorney, David Haber.
Moya of Uniondale was shot in the head when Ventura pulled out a gun and fired at least three times in an attack in which he wasn't the intended victim, but was in the area of a perceived enemy of MS-13, the Nassau district attorney's office said.
"As a result of hearing more of the evidence, he accepted responsibility for this case as well as a second case. … As you get closer to trial, or once you're on trial, is when you start to get a great amount of discovery," Haber said Thursday, speaking of evidence that prosecutors turn over. "Based upon that, he chose to accept responsibility."
In the 2016 killing, Ventura and fellow MS-13 member Jeustin David Maldonado rode bicycles to Fenimore Avenue in Uniondale to try to kill their intended target, who was inside a car, prosecutors said.
Maldonado ordered the target out of the car, made MS-13 gang signs with his hands and yelled "La Mara" — a reference to the transnational criminal syndicate — before Ventura fired a 9-mm semiautomatic pistol, hitting Moya in the head, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Moya died two days later.
Ventura was trying to kill a gang enemy at the time to gain greater status in MS-13, according to prosecutors.
They said Maldonado, 19, of Uniondale, previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder and is awaiting sentencing.
Ventura also pleaded guilty Wednesday to the Aug. 11, 2017, slaying of Carlos Rivas-Majano, whose remains investigators found in August in a shallow grave in the woods south of Glenn Curtiss Boulevard near Kellenberg Memorial High School.
Authorities said at the time that at least five MS-13 gang members had lured Rivas-Majano to his death at the East Meadow location.
Sources told Newsday then that the Uniondale man was a gang member targeted for death because he had cooperated with authorities. Prosecutors said Thursday that Rivas-Majano was never seen again after he told a family member he was on the way home from a Uniondale deli.
Four others have pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Rivas-Majano's slaying and their cases are pending resolution as the investigation remains ongoing, prosecutors said.
The guilty plea by Ventura, known on the street as "Trauma" and "Despiadado," also included his admission to the crimes of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, according to authorities.
"Two young men were viciously murdered by this defendant so that he could gain status and climb the ranks of MS-13," Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
She also thanked local police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations for cooperating in the probe.