An alleged gang member who fatally stabbed a 16-year-old outside a New Cassel party "killed the hopes and dreams" of the victim’s whole family, a grieving relative said Monday as a judge sentenced the perpetrator to 19 years in prison.
Matthew Martinez, now 18, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in November as part of a plea deal negotiated by the prosecution and defense that followed his indictment on murder, gang assault and weapon charges after the July 5, 2018, slaying of Jordan Harris.
Police arrested the Selden man, then 16, about two weeks after the Uniondale teenager suffered deadly stab wounds in a brawl outside a house party that drew about 100 people after word about the gathering went out on social media, authorities said previously.
"He didn’t just stab Jordan 11 times. He killed the hopes and dreams of this entire family," the victim’s uncle, Gary DePass — who identified himself as a 20-year State Police veteran — said during Monday’s virtual sentencing.
"We are missing a piece of ourselves that we can never get back," DePass also said, calling Martinez "a threat to society who does not deserve to be back on the street."
Martinez, a reputed Crips gang member, had previous disputes with Harris before the deadly encounter, according to the Nassau District Attorney’s Office.
Police have said Harris went to the event with friends before partygoers came out of the home and words were exchanged.
Then a fistfight started, gunshots rang out and the 16-year-old was stabbed in the melee at about 1 a.m. by the corner of Costar Street and Roman Avenue.
Martinez stabbed him "while aided by at least four to five others," police alleged in court records after Harris’ death. But prosecutors said after Martinez’s guilty plea that there had been no other arrests in the deadly attack and the case had been closed.
State Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti told the defendant Monday, before announcing his punishment, that he had "destroyed two families" and no sentence could ever take away the Harris family's pain.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas called Jordan Harris "the victim of a completely senseless act of violence" in a statement later Monday, adding that her office’s sympathies "are with his family and friends."
Boyd Harris, the victim’s father, called Martinez a coward during Monday's sentencing, but also said he would have to forgive him to get rid of hate that had built inside himself since his son's slaying.
Martinez, speaking through a video conference link at Nassau’s jail, told the victim’s family he hoped one day they could forgive him.
"I can’t take back what I did … I would take it back if I could … I live with it every day," he said.
The victim was a stern and strong young man who was the youngest of three brothers, played football and was going into his junior year of high school at the time of his killing, according to his mother, Maria DePass-Harris.
After Monday’s sentencing, she said in an interview she was sure Martinez did live every day with his actions, but it wouldn’t take away her family’s pain no matter how long he spent behind bars.
"Hopefully he can change his ways," she added of her son’s killer.