Daniel Garcia-Carbajal, 18, who was fatally shot in 2021. An alleged...

Daniel Garcia-Carbajal, 18, who was fatally shot in 2021. An alleged MS-13 member, Kevin Torres, 26, was convicted Wednesday for his role in the killing. Credit: Cristina Garcia

An alleged MS-13 member was convicted on Wednesday for his role in the 2021 murder of 18-year-old Daniel Garcia-Carbajal in Freeport, Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said.

Kevin Torres, 26, also known as Sarco, was found guilty of second-degree murder, and first-degree and second-degree conspiracy, prosecutors said.

The trial began May 22 and the jury deliberated for less than an hour before delivering its verdict. Torres faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced July 10.

In the early morning of March 1, 2021, Garcia-Carbajal, who was perceived as an enemy of MS-13 because of social media posts, was lured to Cow Meadow Park with the promise of meeting up with girls through a message sent to him on Facebook Messenger, prosecutors said.

That afternoon, he was picked up in a car and taken to the park with Torres and other alleged MS-13 members.

When Garcia-Carbajal and the group entered the park, he was shot once in his head, prosecutors said. His body was found the following day in the park after a family member reported him missing. Torres was arrested in Central Islip on Oct. 26, 2021, by members of the Nassau County Police Department’s Bureau of Special Operations.

Before deliberations on Wednesday morning, Torres, wearing a white button-up and his black hair slicked back, sat shoulder to shoulder with his legal team.

Throughout the trial, his assigned attorney, Jeffery Groder, questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s witness statements from co-defendants Manuel Gomez and Tulio Ayala, also alleged MS-13 associates, who are  cooperating with the government in the case. 

Both Gomez and Ayala pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and are awaiting sentencing, according to the district attorney's office.

Groder also challenged Torres’ individual involvement in the shooting of Garcia-Carbajal, saying prosecutors could not prove he was the one who pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting.

Prosecutor Veronica Guariglia showed the court footage of Torres entering and leaving the vehicle used to drive Garcia-Carbajal to the park on the day of the murder. Guariglia also said that, according to the co-defendants in the car at the time, Torres threw a shell casing from the murder weapon out the window after the group left Garcia-Carbajal’s body.

“There is no doubt who the participants were in the murder of Daniel Garcia,” Guariglia said during the trial’s summation.

While showing photos of the crime scene, a wooded area of the park with high brush, she added, “These witnesses are not trying to ‘make a murderer’ of Mr. Torres. Mr. Torres made Mr. Torres a murderer.”

After the murder, Torres buried the weapon in another member’s backyard, according to prosecutors.

Following the verdict, Groder said, “Obviously Mr. Torres is disappointed with the verdict, and he will pursue his right to appeal.”

Garcia-Carbajal’s girlfriend, Reyna Guevara, said through a Spanish-speaking interpreter that she was happy with the verdict. 

“Kevin Torres was instrumental in the murder of a teenage victim and conspiracy to conceal the crime,” said Donnelly. “Daniel Garcia-Carbajal thought he was going to spend an afternoon partying with friends and a few girls when he was persuaded to take a drive with Torres to Cow Meadow Park. Instead, the young man was brutally murdered for social media posts that were seen by MS-13 as disrespecting the gang.”

Prosecutors said Garcia-Carbajal was targeted because he posted audio messages online saying, “I don't give a 'freak' about MS-13,” and the group decided the “disrespect” was compromising to its reputation.

Marvin Moralez, also known as Little Chucky and an alleged MS-13 member, pleaded guilty in February 2023 and was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison for his role in Garcia-Carbajal’s murder.

Another co-defendant, Henry Canales, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years concurrent with a 15-year sentence on a separate case involving second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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