A Bronx teen accused of stabbing his classmates in retaliation over alleged homophobic bullying has been found guilty of manslaughter.
On Monday, Judge Michael Gross found Abel Cedeño guilty on charges of manslaughter, weapons possession, and assault for fatally stabbing 15-year-old Matthew McCree and stabbing Arian Laboy when he attempted to intervene at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in 2017.
Cedeño’s lawyers asked Gross to allow their client to remain free until he’s sentenced, in order to receive psychiatric counseling and medication. But Gross denied the request, saying that could take place in prison.
Cedeño was taken into custody after the verdict was read and could face up to 50 years in prison after he’s sentenced on Sept. 10.
The teenager had originally been charged with murder for stabbing McCree, but was was eventually reduced to one count of first-degree manslaughter.
Prosecutors argued that Cedeño had brandished the knife on social media days before the incident, showing he planned the attack beforehand. In fact, they claimed that McCree and Laboy had not bullied Cedeño at all.
But Cedeño’s lawyers argued that he had been the victim of homophobic bullying over the years, and used the knife in self-defense.
Cedeño testified in court last week that he had endured years of homophobic bullying because of his sexual orientation.
“They pulled my hair, they pushed me, called me derogatory gay slurs,” he said.
Police claim that McCree and Laboy, as well as others, had been throwing broken bits of pencils, pen caps, and balls of paper at Cedeño’s head during history class. Cedeño allegedly excused himself to go to the bathroom, and returned with a switchblade knife.
Cedeño testified that his classmates had been harassing him in class. He claimed he didn’t remember stabbing anyone, but remembered being attacked.
“I yelled, whoever threw that is a [expletive],” Cedeño said of the classmates throwing things at him. “Matthew got up and said ‘it was me’… he pushed Mr. Jacoby to get to me. I used my right hand to take out the knife.”
McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis, said she was grateful for the verdict.
“I’m just so happy I got justice for my son,” she said.