A Nassau jury on Wednesday convicted a Mineola landscaper of second-degree murder in the beating death of a 31-year-old man found bleeding and unconscious last year in a Hempstead park.
Marvin Yanez, 43, is now facing a potential sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the slaying of Luis Rustrian Estrada of Hempstead.
Prosecutor Ania Pulaski told jurors during the trial that Yanez had threatened to kill the victim just hours before he did it.
She said the two men had a fistfight in an earlier confrontation where Yanez also hit Estrada with a hammer. During that dispute, Pulaski said, two brothers of the victim heard Yanez threaten Estrada’s life.
Defense attorney Jacob Weinstein had argued there was no evidence to show his client was guilty, including no DNA or fingerprints, and said Yanez wasn’t in the park that night. He also told jurors his client retreated from the fistfight and police never found the weapon used in the killing.
“It shouldn’t have gone this way,” the Manhattan lawyer said Wednesday in an interview after the guilty verdict.
Weinstein added that his client may pursue an appeal and the defense would “look at every legal issue possible.”
“He maintains he did not do it, so it’s very upsetting,” Weinstein said of Yanez’s reaction to the conviction.
The Oct. 18, 2016, attack in Brierley Park left Estrada with skull fractures and a brain bleed following the argument with Yanez at about 7:30 p.m. in a neighborhood close to the park, the prosecution has said.
One of the victim’s brothers called 911 from the park shortly before midnight after friends awoke the brother from a drunken slumber and told him something was wrong with Estrada, who was on the ground nearby.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a prepared statement Wednesday that Yanez brutally beat and killed the victim while he was sleeping, and she hoped the verdict would bring Estrada’s family some comfort.
Jurors also convicted Yanez on assault and weapon charges.
Video footage was among evidence in the case, including some from the dispute involving the fistfight and some that the prosecution said showed Yanez entering and leaving the park that night.
Weinstein had countered during the trial that the nighttime video didn’t show the face of the person in question.