Stone-faced Park Gunman gets 44 Years
By Michael Brown Jr. and David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 16- A young man has been sentenced to 44 years to life in prison for a triple shooting and double murder. The horror began with a dispute on the basketball courts in Devoe Park and ended in gunfire and death on the streets of University Heights.
After a five-week trial, Yenfri Ramirez, 20, was convicted by a jury in the shooting deaths of Edwin Liz, 17, and Allan Matos, 22, and the wounding of Efren Estrada, 39, that occurred in the early evening of April 7, 2011.
Ramirez, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, was found guilty in Bronx Supreme Court on the charges of murder in the second degree for shooting Liz, manslaughter in the second degree for shooting Matos, and assault in the second degree for wounding Estrada as well as criminal possession of a firearm in the second degree.
The altercation between the defendant and his victims stemmed from an earlier fight inside Devoe Park on University Avenue and West Fordham Road, when Ramirez had entered the fray after learning that the fight involved his brother.
The prosecutor claimed Ramirez lured his victims into chasing him to Fordham Road and West University Place, where he turned around and fired three shots from a .38-caliber revolver.
Edwin Liz was fatally shot in the back of the neck, while Allan Matos died from a gunshot wound to the back. Efren Estrada was shot in the leg and survived.
A police officer testified witnessing the shooting and responding officers discovered the murder weapon just steps away from where Ramirez was stopped.
At Ramirez' sentencing hearing held on May 29, Judge Barbara Newman stated she took into account Ramirez' age at the time of the shooting and also the fact that Ramirez had no previous convictions.
“This is a very sad day and difficult day however, circumstances have brought us here,” she said in her opening statement. It wasn't long after that the parents of the victims, read their "impact statements" to Ramirez who sat coldly indifferent to the whole ordeal.
Sentiments of families were often ones of revenge and justice for the cold-blooded murder of their siblings.
“I would like this man to be treated in the same way [as my son] by spending the rest of his life behind four walls,” said Reynaldo Liz, the father of Edwin Liz, via a translator.
“May God forgive you, because I never will,” said the mother of Allen Matos as she briefly looked to Ramirez who did not turn in her direction.
Ramirez, however, maintained his innocence until the end. “I ask forgiveness for what happened, but I didn't kill anyone.”
Ramirez was sentenced to 23 years for murder in the second degree, 21 years for manslaughter in the second degree, 3 years for assault in the second degree, and 5 years for criminal possession of a weapon all of which will be served consecutively except the assault and criminal possession which will be served concurrently.
Ramirez' defense attorney Maria Tobia had pointed to unknown DNA found by investigators on the trigger of the murder weapon, but that wasn't enough to sway the jury.
Tobia has vowed to appeal the conviction.