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Bronx teen on trial for murdering classmate takes stand in own defense, recounts killing in chilling detail

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 7/12/2019 By Molly Crane-Newman, New York Daily News
a young boy wearing a hat © Provided by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

A Bronx teen on trial for fatally stabbing his classmate took the stand in his own defense Thursday and chillingly recounted the gruesome knife attack that left a 15-year-old student dead.

Abel Cedeno, 19, spoke matter-of-factly on the witness stand about the Sept. 27, 2017, fight that claimed Matthew McCree’s life and left his best friend, Ariane LaBoy, in a coma for two days.

“I remember my arms going up, some of (the motions) might have been blocking, some might have been punching. I don’t specifically remember,” Cedeno said.

“I don’t know the specific moment the blade entered their bodies.”

McCree sustained multiple stab wounds during the vicious assault in a classroom at the now-shuttered Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx. He died from a two-and-a-half inch stab wound to the chest which pierced his heart, the court learned early in the trial.

LaBoy endured five deep stab wounds to his chest and arms in the attack and was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

During cross-examination with Assistant District Attorney Nancy Borko, Cedeno repeatedly claimed he had reason to believe his life was in danger when he attacked the two boys.

“Sometimes, when you just, like, fear for your life — you can’t move. You can’t do nothing,” he said.

“How many times have you been in fear of your life that made you immobilized?” Borko asked.

“I don’t remember every exact situation.”

On direct examination with defense attorney Christopher Lynn, Cedeno detailed years of relentless bullying he endured over his sexuality.

“They called me a b----h. They called me a f----t and gay,” he said of taunts he was subjected to in the years prior to the attack.

The young man’s lawyers have sought to defend their client on the basis he was justified in killing McCree because his life was in immediate danger and he had no escape.

According to his testimony, Cedeno was standing at the exit to the classroom when McCree made his way towards him.

Prosecutors successfully objected to a line of questioning aiming to paint the deceased teen as a gang member.

Speaking outside the courthouse, McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis, gave an impassioned statement blasting Cedeno’s attorneys for trying to assassinate her son’s character.

“None of these boys were bullies,” Dennis said.

“They enjoyed life. They were loved. Their families loved them, friends, everybody loved these boys. None of these kids were troubled kids. My son was 15 in 11th grade — what does that say about my son? My son’s attendance was 100% (since) day care.”

Cedeno is facing a maximum of 25 years in prison for the top charge of manslaughter in the second degree. His lawyers rested their case Thursday, and Judge Michael Gross is expected to begin deliberating the evidence Friday afternoon after both parties present their summations.

Cedeno, who wore a navy suit and a pink shirt to his trial Thursday, repeatedly stated that during the fistfight that led to the stabbing, McCree punched him at least three times on the left side of his face with his right hand.

Borko called McCree’s mother to the stand for her swift rebuttal, lasting all of one minute, where she aimed to clear up that section of the testimony.

“Did Matthew McCree have a dominant hand?” Borko asked.

“Yes,” Dennis said. “He was a leftie.”


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