A Roosevelt teenager who a prosecutor said “terrorized his community” in a murderous robbery spree that left two people dead is heading to prison after a judge sentenced him Wednesday to 100 years to life behind bars.
"He wanted to rob and steal and he didn't care who got in his way," Nassau prosecutor Ania Pulaski also said of Corey Williams, 19, at his Nassau County Court sentencing.
Two victims, she added, "paid the ultimate price with their lives."
A jury convicted Williams in November of the murders of Gerber Hernandez, 33, and Royston Hall, 37, along with two 2016 taxi driver robberies in which one of the cabbies suffered a gunshot wound.
"You killed two people and you destroyed two other lives by making them fearful to do their jobs," Acting State Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz told Williams before meting out his punishment.
Williams' attorney, Jeffrey Groder, told the judge that the case was "one of the most serious" he'd handled in his career, and that his client had been respectful to him during a trial process that also had a profound effect on his client's father.
He said later he would file an appeal on his client's behalf.
The judge on Wednesday also sentenced Williams' co-defendant, Malique Shelton, to 25 years to life for the murders of Hernandez and Hall.
Shelton, also 19 and from Roosevelt, pleaded guilty to the slayings before Williams stood trial late last year.
Before Shelton's sentencing, his attorney, Steven Barnwell, told the judge that the teenager had acknowledged responsibility for his actions when he pleaded guilty and had expressed remorse to him.
But Berkowitz told Shelton she couldn't fathom someone so young committing such violent crimes.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas issued a statement later Wednesday, saying the two defendants "robbed and murdered two innocent men in cold blood."
"Predators like Williams and Shelton belong behind bars, and they deserve every day of the long prison sentences they received today," she added.
Some of Gerber Hernandez's family was in court for the sentencings, when Pulaski also read aloud a statement from his stepmother, Marta Mendez-Estrada, 54.
Hernandez's stepmother called him a very affectionate and quiet man with a noble heart who had helped his father support the extended family.
"He had lots of plans but it was all just a dream because he is no longer with us," Mendez-Estrada's statement said.
"I believe in God and that he will provide for justice," her statement added, while saying she also felt sorry for the defendants and their parents.
Prosecutors have said Hernandez, a construction worker, was walking home from work on Nov. 18, 2015, on Babylon Turnpike in Roosevelt when Williams and Shelton tried to rob him of cash and shot him twice when he resisted.
In the second murder, prosecutors said the defendants on June 22, 2016, led Hall, 37, to Wagner Avenue in Roosevelt and robbed him of marijuana before they shot him.
Both victims were fathers, the judge pointed out Wednesday while sentencing their killers.
Hernandez's stepmother said in an interview after the court proceeding that her stepson had been born in El Salvador and had a 17-year-old son.
"If they're inside, they don't kill nobody else," she said, adding that their sentences would keep other people safe. "It's very hard for our family. Still we miss Gerber, we cry for Gerber."