A young man who endured years of sexual abuse by his uncle was sentenced Monday to 11/3 to 4 years in prison for stabbing the older man to death.
"It's a disturbing situation all around," said state Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro as he imposed the sentence and gave Mario Cruz, 20, youthful offender status, which will leave Cruz with a clean criminal record.
Cruz pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of his uncle, Omar DeJesus Perez Sanchez, 24, of Brentwood in March 2012.
Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kearon acknowledged that Perez Sanchez preyed on Cruz both in their native country of Guatemala and here, but said the multiple stab wounds deserved a harsher sentence. She recommended Cruz get 10 years in prison and opposed youthful offender status.
Defense attorney Richard Stafford said Perez Sanchez had abused his client and other children in Guatemala from the time Cruz was 11 until he left for the United States three years later. Cruz had told his teacher in Guatemala about the abuse, Stafford said.
Cruz believed he was free from the abuse when he moved to Central Islip, but it resumed as soon as Perez Sanchez arrived on Long Island in early 2012, Stafford said.
"You had thought you had gotten away from him when you came to the United States," Ambro said to Cruz.
In March 2012, in a wooded area of Brentwood, Perez Sanchez put a knife to Cruz's throat, as most previous rapes had begun, Stafford said. But this time Cruz fought off his uncle, got control of the knife and stabbed him in the chest, Stafford said.
Cruz told police right away why he did it, Stafford said. A defensive wound on his hand was evidence of a struggle for the knife, he said.
Ambro told Cruz he deserved some leniency, but lectured him that he did not handle the situation correctly.
"Your reaction to the abuse was not an appropriate response," Ambro said. "It's disturbing that there wasn't any way to relieve this situation without killing this man."