Bronx Teen Gets 14 Years In 2017 Stabbing That Killed Classmate

Marla Diamond
September 10, 2019 - 1:40 pm
Abel Cedeno

Marla Diamond/WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A Bronx teen convicted of stabbing his classmate to death in 2017 was sentenced to 14 years in prison Tuesday.

In July, 19-year-old Abel Cedeno was found guilty of stabbing 15-year-old Matthew McCree to death during a fight at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the West Farms section in September 2017.

The fight allegedly started after McCree threw a ball of paper or pen at Cedeno. Ariane Laboy, a 16-year-old who was also stabbed by Cedeno, survived with serioius injuries.

Cedeno has said he was frequently bullied for being gay and that he was acting in self defense. The judge acknowledged the bullying, but said there was no evidence the victims bullied him or even knew him.

Cedeno apologized in court, saying he thinks about the stabbings night and day and has nightmares, but McCree's mother Louna Dennis called his apology insincere.

"He was coached, he was trying to remember his lines, had he meant it from his heart nobody would need to coach him," said Dennis.

"I have so many happy memories of my nephew, but the only one that haunts me is to see his lifeless body with a hole so deep in his chest," said Dennis' sister, Lacy Providence, who delivered a tearful victim impact statement at the hearing.

Laboy's mother said her once joyful son is now emotionally and physically scarred and is afraid to leave the house.

Cedeno had faced 50 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

His attorney, Christopher Lynn, called the 14-year sentence excessive. 

"Because he has no record, because he was 18 at the time, and because of mitigating circumstances which led up to this," he said.

Dennis was pleased with the sentence.

"I didn't get my 50 years, but I'll take the 14. I'm pleased with the judge, I'm pleased with his decision," she said.

Cedeno received support from City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., who has been criticized for homophobic remarks he’s made in the past. Diaz had wanted the judge to grant Cedeno youthful offender status, which would have significantly reduced his sentence.

In a letter to Bronx Judge Michael Gross, Diaz encouraged leniency for Cedeno and wrote that the teen is also a “victim” in the case because he was bullied by classmates and public school educators failed to intervene, according to the New York Post.

“Since his arrest, Abel, who is a Christian, has turned to me many times for spiritual guidance, sharing with me some of the incredible bullying and racially charged offensives he faced as a gay Puerto Rican in the New York City public school system,” Diaz wrote in the letter to the judge.

Diaz isn’t the only one who says the city is partly to blame for the stabbing.

“The Department of Education has blood on its hands and needs now to look at the schools and safety of students,” McCree's lawyer, Sanford Rubinstein, said.

The case brought attention to bullying and a lack of metal detectors at city schools.

McCree's mother maintains that he was not to blame.

"Clearly Matthew McCree was not a bully. He was not a member of a gang and this verdict speaks to that," she said.

The Education Department has been sued by both victims’ families.