A judge sentenced an admitted MS-13 gang member to 23 years to life in prison Monday for his role in what prosecutors have described as the brutal hacking death of a Roosevelt teenager whose remains were buried in concrete.
Dennis Lopez, 20, of Freeport, pleaded guilty in June to murder in the July 2017 slaying of 15-year-old Angel Soler. He also admitted at that time to being a member of MS-13.
"You were 17 when this crime was committed and you're now going to spend the better part of your life in prison ... I can't imagine that anything is worth spending that much time behind bars," acting State Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz told Lopez.
The judge also sentenced him on conspiracy and weapons charges stemming from a separate indictment, along with a prison contraband charge he admitted to in July. All of Lopez's sentences will run at the same time.
Authorities found Soler’s remains in October 2017 in the woods on the border of Roosevelt and Baldwin nearly three months after he went missing after leaving home on a bicycle.
Soler’s mother has said she brought him to the United States from Honduras to flee gang violence there.
Members of MS-13 targeted Soler because of the gang’s belief that he might have belonged to the rival 18th Street Gang, according to police.
"Dennis Lopez and his co-defendants helped lure innocent 15-year-old Angel Soler into the woods and relentlessly hacked him to death," Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement Monday.
Soler's family, she said, "had to endure three months of not knowing where Angel was, until his body was found in a remote area and covered in concrete."
Monday's sentence holds Lopez "accountable for his heinous actions," according to the district attorney, who added that prosecutors "are ready to try his co-defendants for this senseless murder."
Lopez, also known as Elmer Guillen Marroquin, was among five people whom authorities charged in Soler’s killing.
Charges remain pending against the others, who have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors have described Lopez, who they said uses the street name “Maliante,” as a member of the gang's Hollywood clique who moved weapons, money and drugs for MS-13.
Lopez’s appointed attorney, Megan Rha of Queens, said after the sentencing that “at the end of the day, the client did what he needed to do and what he felt would be the best.”