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Teenager Who Says Antigay Bullying Led to Stabbing Found Guilty

JusticeForAbel Facebook

A New York judge found Abel Cedeno guilty of manslaughter. Cedeno said he was punched several times before stabbing his assailant.

A New York judge Monday rejected claims of self-defense against anti-LGBTQ bullying and found a Bronx teenager guilty in the 2017 stabbing death of a classmate and the maiming of another.

Justice Michael A. Gross found 19-year-old Abel Cedeno guilty of manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a knife, according to The New York Times. Defense attorneys, wearing rainbow pins to court, had presented Cedeno's case as a "gay pride trial."

The case involved the stabbing death of 15-year-old Matthew McCree at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx. Ariane LaBoy, a 16-year-old at the time, was permanently maimed in the incident.

In court, attorneys for Cedeno said he had faced severe homophobic bullying at school that went unchecked by the administration for years. Notably, Cedeno had been connected to attorneys through New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., a Bronx politician with a history of homophobic remarks who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat.

Cedeno took the stand last week and testified he never intended to use knife he had brought to school, that it "was only meant to deter -- to scare people away." But in class that day, students had begun pelting him, first with pencils and papers. He was leaving the classroom when more items hit his head, and finally he turned around and demanded to know who was throwing things.

By Cedeno's telling, McCree took credit, then charged at him. Cedeno pulled out his knife, but testified he was punched several times before hurting his classmate. He did not deny stabbing Matthew McCree or Ariane LaBoy, but did not recall when his knife actually entered their bodies.

Other classmates during a three-week trial offered different accounts and said Cedeno started the fight.

Cedeno came out as bisexual after he was arrested. He waived his right to a jury trial. Prosecutors said the fact that Cedeno recently purchased the knife and brought it to school showed he was anxious to use it in a fight.

McCree's was the first homicide in a New York City school in 20 years and prompted calls for metal detectors.

New York's LGBTQ community has called for proactive intervention by schools to stop antigay bullying before situations escalate to violence.

Supporters of Cedeno have raised money for his legal defense through social media.

"Abel Cedeno was just another teen boy trying to get through his personal trials and tribulations and school," reads the Facebook page JusticeForAbel. "Bullied since the sixth grade, he still kept a smile on his face and loved to make people laugh."

"He was a funny, loving, and kind hearted teen boy who was bullied for being flamboyant and bisexual," the page continues. "Being who he was made him a target."

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