Dominican in U.S. pleads guilty to 3rd-degree murder
An illegal immigrant sought for months here and in Puerto Rico by York City Police detectives -- and who eventually was found homeless in New York City -- pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder.

 

Jose Francisco Sosa-Reyes, 24, remains in county prison without bail awaiting sentencing, scheduled for Feb. 21. Known as "Pulga," which is Spanish for flea, he is originally from the Dominican Republic.

As part of a plea agreement, charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder will be dropped at sentencing. He made an open plea, meaning it will be up to the judge to determine how much prison time the defendant will serve.

Sosa-Reyes admitted in court to luring Roberto DeJesus-Vargas, 38, to the corner of Girard.

and Prospect streets on Jan. 9, 2010, where DeJesus-Vargas was shot at least seven times while sitting in his vehicle.

An accomplice also awaits sentencing for his role in the crime, and chief deputy prosecutor Karen Comery said at least one other person was involved. That person has never been charged and his whereabouts is unknown.

Botched deal: According to Comery, the shooting was caused by a botched drug deal. The victim was given money to buy drugs in New York City, but came back with no drugs and no money, she said.

Instead, he apparently used the cash to pay off his own debt to the dealer, she said.

Comery and detectives previously said Sosa-Reyes was the triggerman. But through a Spanish interpreter the defendant told presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner he wasn't the shooter.

He claimed his role was the "set-up guy," and that he called the victim to meet him outside the Horizonte Restaurant, near the corner where the murder happened.

"Why did you want to kill him?" Bortner asked Sosa-Reyes.

"He owed them money ... for drugs," the defendant said.

'I feel horrible': The judge then asked why Sosa-Reyes was the one to make the fateful call.

"Because I used to hang out with him," the defendant said. "I didn't really have any problems directly with him. But ... he was always bashing my friends.

"I regret what happened," he said. "I feel horrible about it."

"It's a little late," Bortner replied.

The judge accepted Sosa-Reyes' guilty plea and ordered a full pre-sentence investigation, including a sentencing recommendation.

Defense attorney Joshua Neiderhiser declined comment as he left the courtroom.

Gunman? Asked whether she still believes Sosa-Reyes was the triggerman, Comery said she will be able to discuss that in more detail after he is sentenced.

"It's been an ongoing investigation," she said.

Also in prison awaiting sentencing is Kenel Garcia-Cruz, 19, of York City, who police said was the getaway driver during the slaying. He also torched the van he was driving that night to destroy evidence, police said.

Garcia-Cruz was 17 at the time. Murder charges against him were dropped in October when he pleaded guilty to arson and tampering with evidence.

Manhunt: York City Police detectives captured Sosa-Reyes June 28, 2010, in Brooklyn, N.Y. They said they found him living like a homeless person and sleeping in a basement hallway on Weldon Street.

In March 2010, city detectives and a U.S. marshal flew to Puerto Rico looking for Sosa-Reyes, who apparently slipped away. But while there, they arrested two other men wanted in York County felony crimes, both associates of Sosa-Reyes.

A federal immigration detainer has also been filed against Sosa-Reyes. That means once he finishes serving his prison sentence he faces deportation back to the Dominican Republic.

During their hunt for Sosa-Reyes, the U.S. Marshals Service developed information that he had ties to Philadelphia, New York City, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Investigators also learned he has used a number of aliases, city police have said.

Source: www.yorkdispatch.com/news

Go back | Date: 23 Dec 2011
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