Police at the scene where a 15-year-old was slain in...

Police at the scene where a 15-year-old was slain in a gang murder in woods in Central Islip on Aug. 7, 2019. Credit: James Carbone

A federal judge in Central Islip on Monday sentenced an MS-13 associate who lured a 15-year-old boy into a fatal ambush to 22 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors said Lidia DelCarmen-Rodriguez, an associate of the Leeward Locos Salvatruchas, and other members of the clique targeted Jasson Medrano-Molina because they believed he was a member of the rival 18th Street gang.

DelCarmen-Rodriguez, 21, lured Medrano-Molina and two other individuals to a wooded area in Central Islip in the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 2019, where Medrano-Molina was fatally shot at close range, prosecutors said.

“Your hands are covered in blood,” Medrano-Molina’s uncle said as he delivered a victim-impact statement, looking icily at DelCarmen-Rodriguez as he spoke. Newsday is not naming the uncle or other relatives who provided victim impact statements because of prosecutors’ concerns for their safety.

DelCarmen-Rodriguez pleaded guilty on June 30, 2022, to aiding and abetting the use of a firearm, causing the death of Medrano-Molina. She faced up to 364 months — more than 30 years — in federal prison. DelCarmen-Rodriguez is expected to be deported to her native El Salvador after completing her sentence.

She declined to address visiting Circuit Court Judge Joseph Bianco before she was sentenced, defense attorney Zachary Taylor said, because she did not want to further upset the victim’s family. Taylor said DelCarmen-Rodriguez asked him to apologize to the family on her behalf.

Medrano-Molina’s grandmother described the victim as a kind teen who worked hard, studied hard and was popular with his peers.

“Nobody has the right to take away another person’s life. This woman deserves the full impact of the law,” the grandmother said through sobs and tears, frequently turning to the defense table to look directly at DelCarmen-Rodriguez.

“I beg you, your honor, the full impact of the law, the maximum punishment for this woman," the grandmother continued. "She is a danger to young people. She could do it again. She could commit the same crime again.”

Prosecutors said MS-13 members and associates in July and August of 2019 were seeking to identify rival gang members they could assault and kill to elevate their status in the gang. DelCarmen-Rodriguez and her co-conspirators targeted several individuals, including Medrano-Molina, as members of the rival 18th Street gang.

The defendant lured Medrano-Molina and two others to a secluded wood area in Central Islip, where her co-conspirators were waiting with a .40-caliber handgun and a baseball bat. Medrano-Molina and his companions fled when they realized they had been ambushed. Prosecutors said Medrano-Molina was pursued and fatally shot multiple times at close range. His companions escaped.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Scotti asked Bianco to sentence the defendant to 25 years in prison.

“This is the kind of murder that demonstrates just how evil the gang is,” Scotti said.

Taylor asked Bianco to sentence DelCarmen-Rodriguez to 10 years in prison because she was a minor — 16 years old — when the crime occurred. She should not be sentenced along adult guidelines, he said, because her judgment was immature at the time.

Taylor said DelCarmen-Rodriguez suffered from complex post-traumatic stress disorder because of horrific physical and sexual abuse, first by relatives before she left El Salvador at the age of 12 and later, when she was raped by seven men, including several schoolmates, in an abandoned house in Central Islip.

“Girls who have been subjected to sexual assault and rape are more likely to become affiliated with gangs,” Taylor told Bianco.

DelCarmen-Rodriguez became entwined with MS-13 because the gang initially provided her with a sense of safety, Taylor said. She knew that two teenage girls who had crossed the gang had been murdered in Brentwood in 2016. She attempted suicide a week before Medrano-Molina’s death because she felt trapped, Taylor said in court.

Bianco expressed sympathy for Taylor’s argument, calling the mitigating factors he detailed “significant.” But the slaying was premeditated and not impulsive, he said, and he had to weigh the trauma suffered by the victim’s family as well.

One of DelCarmen-Rodriguez’s co-conspirators in the death of Medrano-Molina, Jose Omar Sorto Portillo, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to murder in aid of racketeering and was later sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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