Abel Cedeno sentenced: Former Bronx high school student gets 14 years jail time in fatal knifing attack of classmate, Matthew McCree & critically injuring Ariane LaBoy.
A former Bronx high school student has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for stabbing a classmate to death and critically injuring another in 2017.
Abel Cedeno, aged 20, was sentenced on Tuesday at Bronx Supreme Court according to media reports.
Cedeno previously admitted to fatally stabbing 15-year-old Matthew McCree and critically injuring another classmate, 16-year-old Ariane LaBoy, in a classroom at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in September 2017.
He was found guilty of manslaughter, assault and weapon possession in July. Leading into his sentencing, Cedeno had faced up to 50 years in prison.
Justice Michael Gross declined to offer Cedeno youthful offender status due to the seriousness of the charges.
Prior to his sentencing, Cedeno told the court that he felt ‘horrible’ about the pain he caused both victims’ families.
‘I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life,’ he said. ‘I regret it so much, and I wish that I could take it all back.’
Cedeno’s defense team tried to convince the judge that the teen was acting in self defense, arguing that he brought the knife used in the attack to school for protection from bullies who had ‘tormented him for years’.
During trial proceedings, Cedeno told of being punched in the face multiple times on the day of the deadly confrontation at the now-closed school.
He said he produced a switchblade in history class to defend himself against bullies.
In a statement after the verdict was handed down, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said: ‘A 15-year-old boy was slain, and another youth’s life is forever changed by this defendant’s crime.
‘There was no evidence at trial that Matthew McCree or Ariane LaBoy had ever bullied the defendant.
‘His explosion of rage has left so many lives in ruins, including his own. Now he will spend many years in prison. We, as a society, must do everything to prevent violence in our schools.’
— News12BX (@News12BX) September 10, 2019
How the New York City public school system failed to stem off tragedy:
Following sentencing, McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis said she was satisfied with the sentence.
‘I didn’t get my 50 years, but I’ll take 14,’ Dennis told press corps. ‘Had he gotten youthful offender, it would have been maybe one-and-a-half. I’ll take the 14.’
Felicia LaBoy, whose son Ariane barely survived the assault, said the mental and physical damage he sustained has had a lasting impact.
‘The Ariane who returned from the hospital in October of 2017 is not the Ariane I sent to school on September 27, 2017,’ she said.
‘He lost his best friend, his childhood, and his joyful nature. What he gained was physical pain, emotional pain, and a level of cynicism that no teenager should have.’
The trial saw testimony from several students and teachers who witnessed the deadly attack, and from a doctor who examined the deceased victim.
Dr John Hayes, from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, described McCree’s chest wound as ‘gaping and complex,’ reported New 12 The Bronx.
He told the court that Cedeno’s blade pierced the teenager’s heart about 3-inches deep and caused one of his lungs to collapse.
Jurors also heard graphic testimony from Matthew Lawlor, who was a dean at the school at the time of the stabbing.
‘In the distance I saw blood rolling out of the classroom… from his chest, the blood was projecting out and he collapsed.’
A friend of McCree, 17-year-old Tyler Lilavois, testified that Cedeno was the aggressor and was challenging his classmates to a fight after being hit with a paper ball.
Lilavois said that McCree confessed to throwing the ball and apologized to Cedeno, but he allegedly challenged the 15-year-old to a fight after calling his classmates ‘p***ies,’ according to New York Daily News.
Another witness, Aanaiya Santiago, 17, offered a similar version of events in her testimony in the beginning of the trial, reported New York Post.
She quoted Cedeno as telling McCree to ‘pull up,’ which is a slang term for starting a fight.
Cedeno told ABC New York in December 2017 that he initially tried to walk away on September 27, 2017, when his classmates wouldn’t stop bullying him.
‘I was near the entrance to the classroom,’ he told the outlet. ‘And they continued to throw stuff. The class was very rowdy and loudness and everything.
‘I just snapped. I started screaming and screaming.’
Cedeno said he had been bullied since middle school, when he first started struggling with being gay.
He said classmates called him ‘derogatory’ words and mocked his flamboyant nature – saying he must be gay because he was ‘growing out his hair and has a high-pitched voice’.
Cedeno claimed that the years of bullying lead him to attempt to commit suicide the day before the attack.
‘I tried to overdose on some pills, but the next day I woke up,’ he explained.
‘I didn’t want to be surrounded by those kids. Whenever I went to school, I felt trapped. Like i was put in a cage with a whole bunch of animals.’
His family are suing the New York City public school system, alleging that more could have been done to prevent the alleged bullying and incident.
McCree’s mother maintains her son ever having been a bully.