A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a female associate of the MS-13 street gang should be tried as an adult for her alleged role in the killing of four men in a Central Islip park when she was a juvenile, according to court papers.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco in a decision Tuesday said that while the unnamed associate was four months shy of her 18th birthday in the April 2017 killings, she “instigated the murders, participated in planning them, and assisted the MS-13 in carrying them out,” according to the government. She is now 18 and her name won’t be revealed until she is arraigned as an adult.
Her age at the time of the crime would normally call for juvenile treatment, but Bianco said that the maximum incarceration she could get in the juvenile system would be five years.
Defendants charged with the killings as adults can potentially face the death penalty. But under federal law, the maximum the female associate can face is life in prison, even though she is being tried as an adult, because she was a juvenile at the time.
Bianco said, given her alleged involvement, as well as her obstruction of justice and lack of remorse after the crime, she “is unlikely to be rehabilitated within the juvenile justice system” in that time period.
The judge said the female associate told MS-13 members that some of the victims were making MS-13 gang signs on social media, a significant sign of disrespect by the gang’s code.
Some were also believed to be members of the rival 18th Street gang by MS-13, Bianco said. Family members of the victims have denied they were gang members.
Bianco said that according to the government, the girl helped lure the victims to the park, saying they were going to smoke marijuana. She invited someone who invited the four victims to join them. That person then escaped while the others were killed by MS-13 members, the government said, according to Bianco.
At least nine people have been charged in connection with the quadruple murders, including three adults, and six juveniles.
One of the other juveniles was another female associate who also allegedly identified the victims flashing MS-13 signs on social media and showed the pictures to MS-13 members, according to officials.
The four victims were: Justin Llivicura, 16, of East Patchogue; Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport; Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, of Brentwood; and Jefferson Villalobos, 18, of Pompano Beach, Florida, who was on Long Island visiting his cousin Banegas.
The brutality of the park killings, following the deaths of two teenage girls — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — in nearby Brentwood shined a spotlight on Long Island’s MS-13 gang problem, with both President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowing to eliminate the gang.