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Bay Shore man sentenced to maximum in fatal stabbing of another man

Wilfredo Flores listens to the widow of Carlos

Wilfredo Flores listens to the widow of Carlos Velasquez make a witness statement on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Riverhead Criminal Court. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A Suffolk judge sentenced a Bay Shore man Monday to the maximum of 5 to 15 years in prison for fatally stabbing a man at his own home.

Wilfredo Flores, 29, was convicted last month of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Carlos Velasquez, 40, of Central Islip. Flores stabbed Velasquez in the abdomen during a party on March 9, 2014, slicing his liver and piercing his heart. The verdict left no one on either side satisfied.

Prosecutors had sought a conviction of first-degree manslaughter, which would have carried a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Flores continued to insist he was acting in self-defense against Velasquez and another man.

Velasquez's fiancee and mother of his infant child, Karen Banegas, told Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. Monday she was unhappy with the length of prison time Flores could get.

"This man ruined my life in every way possible," she said in Spanish through an interpreter. "I hope that justice will be made."

Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl said Velasquez, unlike Flores, was a legal resident of the United States and a hard worker. He said Flores deserved the maximum sentence.

Defense attorney Bryan Browns of the Legal Aid Society said his client didn't intend to hurt anyone that night, but between the beer and cocaine at the party, things got out of control.

"We have a tragic situation, where a man is dead," Browns said.

His client will suffer, too, he said. Because Flores almost certainly will be deported after he serves his prison sentence, he likely will never see his own two children again, Browns said.

"He takes responsibility for defending himself with a knife," Browns said, depicting it as one rash act in an otherwise responsible life.

Flores spoke briefly before Toomey imposed the sentence. "I defend myself, but I do want to apologize to his family," he said.

Toomey said the stabbing "was a completely senseless act" and nothing less than the maximum for second-degree manslaughter would be appropriate.

After the conviction, most jurors said they never believed Flores intended to seriously injure Velasquez, making it impossible to convict him of first-degree manslaughter.

But they also said they didn't believe Flores when he testified he was in fear for his life and acting in self-defense against the much larger Velasquez, making acquittal unavailable.

Witnesses testified they didn't know why Flores began swinging two knives in the house. Other than him, no one said they saw anyone attack Flores.

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