Families of two students are finally getting justice after a judge sentenced Abel Cedeno to 14 years in prison after being found guilty manslaughter, assault, and criminal possession of a weapo on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.
In 2017, Abel Cedeno fatally stabbed 15-year-old Matthew McCree and seriously injured 16-year-old Ariane Laboy in their NYC high school classroom. Authorities said Cedeno stabbed McCree and Laboy with a switchblade as their other classmates looked on in horror. The shock of such violence caused protests from parents who said the school should have better safety measures to prevent such occurrences. LGBTQ advocates also called for the city to address the bullying of gay students.
Although he did not come out until after his arrest, Cedano says that he had been bullied for years over his perceived sexuality and his actions were justified by self-defense. Cedeno testified, "They pulled my hair, they pushed me, called me derogatory gay slurs."
Prosecutors argued that there was no evidence of the alleged bullying. However, Judge Michael Gross did not dismiss the possibility that Cedeno had endured torment. In court he stated, “I believe you paid an emotional price for the repeated acts of being bullied, which undermined your self-image and psychological well-being, but, your history is not an excuse for what you did.”
At the time of the incident, 18 year old Yanique Heatley, a student at the school, told reporters that Cedeno was "different from the other guys."
"He likes Nicki Minaj, stuff from H&M. He likes Kylie Jenner," she said. Another student, Asia Jones, stated, "He usually gets bullied a lot." She said fellow students bothered Cedeno in the hall and "talk crap to him."He's nice. He's sensitive. He has a good heart."
Because of the severity of the crime, Cedano was tried as an adult and was convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to 14 years and eight years for the assault. The sentences will run concurrently.
Cedeno expressed remorse and regret as he addressed the judge and victim’s family members in court. McCree's family was at the courthouse Tuesday for Cedeno's sentencing. Cedeno's family gathered in a hallway where they prayed before a judge handed down his sentence.
McCree's mother, Louna Dennis, spoke with reporters saying she was "very pleased" with the verdict."I didn't get my 50 years, but I'll take the 14," Dennis said. "I'm pleased with the judge."
A case such as this is such a sensitive one. It is truly an eye-opening situation for all parties involved. Violence is never the answer regardless of the circumstance. Such seemed to be the case for Cedeno, who merely snapped after constant ridicule and torment. Please keep the McCree, Laboy, and Cedeno families in your prayers.