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Long IslandCrime

Hempstead gang member gets 20-to-life in slaying, DA says

Pedro Santos, 23, of Hempstead, was sentenced Friday,

Pedro Santos, 23, of Hempstead, was sentenced Friday, April 22, 2016, to 20 years to life in prison for the 2010 fatal stabbing of a Westbury teenager, prosecutors said. This photo is from Nov. 24, 2010. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Hempstead gang member was sentenced Friday to 20 years to life in prison for the 2010 fatal stabbing of a Westbury teenager who died two minutes before his 19th birthday, prosecutors said.

Pedro Santos, 23, was convicted March 9 of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the slaying of Yunior Maldonado, 18.

The trial lasted about two weeks: The jury deliberated for two days.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice William O’Brien sentenced Santos to 20 years to life in prison on the murder charge and one year in prison — served concurrently — on the weapons charge, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.

“Pedro Santos and his accomplice, both gang members, chased an innocent victim down the street and then brutally murdered him with a machete and knife,” Singas said in a statement. “Victim Yunior Maldonado was senselessly killed just minutes before his 19th birthday, and I hope that this sentence will bring his grieving family a small measure of comfort.”

Santos, known by the street name Tiro Loco, and Yan Cifuentes, 16, of Hempstead, approached Maldonado at 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2010, as he walked on Thorne Avenue in Hempstead, prosecutors said.

Santos, who along with Cifuentes is affiliated with the 18th Street gang, asked Maldonado which gang he was affiliated with and then started chasing him, officials said.

After catching up with the victim, Santos began swinging a machete while Cifuentes stabbed him six times with a knife before fleeing.

Maldonado died at 11:58 p.m. at Winthrop-University Hospital, two minutes before the start of his 19th birthday, Singas said.

Cifuentes pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree in November 2011 and was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.

Santos was arrested by Nassau County police nine days after the killing.

This is Santos’ second conviction on the charges: He was found guilty in February 2012 but the conviction was overturned by a state appellate court, which ruled police and prosecutors mistakenly admitted into trial a videotaped statement made while Santos was in police custody.

The panel’s December 2013 decision kicked the case back to trial court — and dismissed the videotaped statement because the justices found that Santos may not have understood Miranda warnings. They were delivered in English despite his being a native Spanish speaker.

His attorney, Juan Carlos Guttlein, could not be reached Friday.

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