Victim was lured to park with promise of sex and drugs; Antonio Cullal stabbed victim multiple times
MINEOLA, N. Y. – The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office announced that a Hempstead man pleaded guilty today for his role in the 2017 murder of Julio Cesar Espantzay-Gonzales in the Massapequa Park Preserve.
Antonio Cullal, 26, a/k/a Duke, pleaded guilty today before Judge Helene Gugerty to murder in the second degree (an A-I felony) and conspiracy in the second degree (a B felony). The defendant is due back in court on August 10 and is expected to be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. The NCDA recommended a sentence of 23 years to life in prison.
“A 19-year old man was mercilessly hacked to death with a machete by Antonio Cullal and a group of other MS-13 gang members because of their belief this young man was the gang’s enemy,” Acting DA Joyce Smith said. “They callously discarded Julio Cesar Espantzay-Gonzales’ body under branches and leaves. I am thankful to our law enforcement partners for apprehending the people responsible for this senseless gang murder.”
According to the investigation, 19-year old Espantzay-Gonzales was reported missing on January 31, 2017. On March 23, 2017, his body was found by a dogwalker in the Massapequa Park Preserve. The victim was allegedly lured to the woods on January 28, 2017 by Kevin Granados-Coreas and others with promises of sex and marijuana.
Once in the preserve, Cullal, Granados-Coreas a/k/a Lonely, Raul Ponce a/k/a Shadow and Gerson Stanley Jaurez a/k/a Angel Black, allegedly hacked Espantzay-Gonzales to death with machetes. They later disposed of the body under tree branches, leaves and other brush.
According to the indictment, Carlos Portillo a/k/a/ Pikachu and Roberto Abrego-Reyes, a/k/a Splinter, allegedly ordered the murder of Espantzay-Gonzales because he was perceived to be an enemy of the gang.
Cullal was arrested in Maryland on October 4, 2017 by members of the Nassau County Police Department and the U.S. Marshals.
The cases against Portillo, Granados-Coreas, Ponce, and Abrego-Reyes are pending.
Jared Rosenblatt, Chief of the Homicide Bureau, and Deputy Chief Katie Zizza and Senior Assistant District Attorney Christopher Casa of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. The defendant is represented by William Shanahan, Esq.
The charges against the other defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.