An MS-13 gang member has been convicted of attempted murder at retrial for an attack on a man in 2017, the Nassau district attorney announced Friday.
Miguel Urias Argueta, 20, was found guilty Thursday of attempting to stab a 19-year-old man in April 2017, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release. Authorities have alleged Urias Argueta was among a trio of gang members who attacked the man in Westbury after he had refused to join MS-13.
“For a year, this 19-year-old victim was threatened and harassed because he would not join MS-13 and when that didn’t work, they tried to kill him,” Singas said. “Fortunately, the victim survived the attack despite the shots fired and the attempts to kill him with a machete and a knife."
She added, "This case is another example of MS-13’s signature brutality and the reason why I am committed to eradicating them from Nassau County.”
The Nassau district attorney’s office says Urias Argueta, of Westbury, tried to stab the victim with a knife after the assailants approached him on bicycles.
One of the defendant's accomplices, Fidel Hernandez, then 23, swung a machete toward the victim's abdomen, according to prosecutors.
Authorities have also said Fidel's brother, Jose Hernandez, then 26, fired three gunshots that missed their mark, with the victim escaping with just a scrape across his lower torso and a torn sweatshirt.
Prosecutor Brittany Gurrieri told jurors in the first trial that the three launched their attack outside the victim's Dover Street home after Fidel Hernandez declared: “The beast is going to take you.”
She said the expression was “a direct MS-13 threat,” adding: “It means you’re going to die.”
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty ended the first trial of Miguel Urias Argueta on Feb. 1 after an alternate juror reported the day before that he had heard the jury foreman make an inappropriate remark while the panel was together.
Gugerty granted the defense’s unopposed motion for a mistrial, saying it was based on “biased comments” by the foreman and “other conversations occurring about the case” among jurors in violation of court rules.
Jose Hernandez pleaded guilty to attempted murder and got a 6-year prison sentence, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Groder.
Fidel Hernandez's attorney, David Haber, said his client pleaded guilty to a criminal possession of a weapon charge and got a 4-year prison sentence.
But Mineola attorney Christopher Graziano, who represents Urias Argueta, had said his client denies being part of a gang and didn't participate in the attack.
Argueta was convicted of attempted murder in the second degree, criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, attempted assault in the first degree, criminal use of a firearm in the second degree, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and attempted assault in the second degree.
Although Argueta did not use a gun, he was convicted under a state statute applying to defendants acting in concert to accomplish an aim, according to the Nassau district attorney's office. Under the statute, each is legally responsible for the acts of the others.
Argueta is due back for sentencing April 9 and faces a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 40 years in prison.