A former Long Island Netas street gang leader who said he found God as a fugitive was sentenced to 37 years in prison Tuesday for the 2004 killings of two rival gang members after the judge pointed out that the killer never turned himself in.
Hunted by the FBI and police for eight years, Jason Cabral, 37, was captured in 2012 in Apollo Beach, Florida.
In February, Cabral pleaded guilty to murder by use of a firearm in the gang killings. The victims -- Anthony Marcano and Fabian Mestres, both 17 -- were lured to a Brentwood house where they thought they'd be selling drugs, according to officials.
"I am truly sorry for what I did," Jason Cabral, who has lived in Brentwood and Bay Shore, told U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert Tuesday. "I have turned my life around."
More than a dozen of his supporters from Florida and the victims' mothers attended the Central Islip sentencing.
In seeking a 25-year sentence, defense attorney Edward Sapone of Manhattan hailed Cabral's life change as "extraordinary" -- becoming active in his church, helping rebuild homes, even giving away turkeys at Thanksgiving.
"I think you have found God," Seybert told the defendant. "But the fact remains that for eight years you remained silent."
Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, said in a statement: "We hope today's proceeding brings some measure of relief to the victims' families."
Mestres' mother, Migdalia Mestres, and Marcano's mother, Sandra Martinez, addressed the judge, each weeping as they spoke of their loss.
"I don't have a son. I don't have the happiness of having a grandchild," Mestres said. "I don't know how a person could do something like this."
The victims were robbed at gunpoint, tied with duct tape and locked in the trunk of a car that was driven off Long Island, according to prosecutors Nicole Boeckmann and Christopher Caffarone.
Marcano had dealt marijuana and cocaine in the Central Islip area and had brought Mestres to Brentwood on Aug. 10, 2004.
But the pair were robbed of several thousand dollars' worth of marijuana, jewelry and an unspecified amount of cash, officials said. They were then driven around until the car came to a vacant lot by an industrial building in Ridgewood.
The trunk was opened, and Marcano and Mestres were killed with shotgun blasts to the head. Their bodies, wiped clean of fingerprints, were dumped at the lot, officials said.
In the courtroom, prosecutor Boeckmann pointed out that the killings were planned, and not a typical drive-by gang shooting. "It was a heinous, heinous crime," she said.
Several other people have pleaded guilty in connection with the crimes and are awaiting sentencing. With Ellen Yan