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Mom of slain Brentwood girl wants death penalty for accused killers

Elizabeth Alvarado, mother of Nisa Mickens, 15, who was killed along with her friend Kayla Cuevas, 16, in September 2016 in Brentwood, spoke outside the federal court building in Central Islip on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, about the alleged MS-13 gang members on trial who are charged with murdering the pair. (Credit: James Carbone)

The mother of a slain Brentwood teenager on Tuesday said she wants U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to seek the death penalty against the alleged MS-13 gang members accused of using bats and machetes to kill her daughter and a friend in 2016.

“God help me, but I do because they didn’t have any empathy for my daughter. They just took her just like that. They were the judge and they were the jury,” Elizabeth Alvarado said in an interview outside a federal courthouse in Central Islip, where three of the four men charged with the teens’ deaths appeared Tuesday for a court-ordered hearing.

Alvarado’s daughter, Nisa Mickens, 15, and her friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16, were beaten and stabbed to death Sept. 13, 2016. The girls’ bodies were discovered a day later on Ray Court in Brentwood.

The four suspected MS-13 gang members charged in the deaths of Mickens and Cuevas are Enrique Portillo, Selvin Chavez, both of Brentwood, and brothers Alexi Saenz and Jairo Saenz, both of Central Islip.

The brutal nature of the killings — by attackers with baseball bats and machetes — and the savage beating of four young men whose mutilated bodies were found in a Central Islip park in 2017, drew the attention of both Sessions and President Donald Trump.

Portillo and the Saenz brothers are also accused, along with Mario Aguilar-Lopez of Brentwood, and Jose Suare, of Central Islip, in a fatal Jan. 30, 2017 shooting inside El Campesino Deli in Central Islip. Federal prosecutors have said Aguilar-Lopez shot and killed a rival gang member, Estaban Alvarado-Bonilla, and wounded a deli clerk. Authorities have said the Saenz brothers provided the gun and ordered the killing of Alvarado-Bonilla.

All six men — charged with murder and other crimes — have pleaded not guilty to the various charges and are being held without bail. Chavez did not come to court Tuesday because his attorney had a scheduling conflict.

At the meeting before U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco, one of the federal prosecutors, John Durham, said his office and attorneys for Aguilar-Lopez and Jose Suarez are engaged in plea negotiations, but Durham did not provide details. The cases against Aguilar-Lopez and Jose Suarez are not potential capital cases.

Attorneys for Portillo and the Saenz brothers told the judge they need more time to put together their arguments why they believe the death penalty is not appropriate in their clients’ cases.

Judge Bianco did not set a deadline for submissions, but ordered another meeting for April 23.

The decision whether or not to seek the death penalty ultimately rests with Sessions, who has to sign off once his staff makes its recommendation.

Capital punishment in federal cases are rare in New York. In the last 50 years, the only defendant who received a death sentence in the state had it overturned.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors informed the judge in a Feb. 16 letter that they have turned over additional evidence to defense attorneys, including crime scene photos and cellphone records in the Alvarado-Bonilla killing.

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