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Hempstead man charged in Massapequa Preserve slaying, cops say

Samuel Ponce outside Nassau police headquarters in Mineola

Samuel Ponce outside Nassau police headquarters in Mineola on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday

An 18-year-old Hempstead man is in custody and facing a murder charge in connection with the May discovery of human remains in the Massapequa Preserve, Nassau police said.

Detectives searching the preserve May 24 found the remains of Bryan Steven Cho Lemus, 18, of Uniondale. Police earlier said they believed Lemus had been buried there in August 2016 after MS-13 gang members killed him. 

Samuel Ponce was arraigned Tuesday in First District Court in Hempstead on a second-degree murder charge related to the death of Lemus, police and court records said.

Ponce is the third Hempstead man charged in the killing. 

Alleged MS-13 gang member Stanley Gerson Juarez, 22 at the time of his arrest in June, was charged with second-degree murder, police said. Alleged MS-13 gang member Raul Ponce, 21, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, police said.

Lemus, who police said associated with the gang, went missing on Aug. 24, 2016 — the day authorities believe he was lured into the woods and attacked with machetes by members of MS-13. 

Samuel Ponce’s Legal Aid attorney could not be reached for comment, but online court records said he pleaded not guilty and remained in custody. Bail information for Samuel Ponce was not available.

He is due back in court on Sept. 24, records show.

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