WOODBURY - An MS-13 gang member was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the murder of a young woman and her toddler.
Rene Mendez Mejia learned his fate on Monday in a Central Islip courtroom. He pleaded guilty in June 2011 to the fatal shootings of Vanessa Argueta and her 2-year-old son, Diego Torres, after Mejia and two other gang members lured the victims to a wooded area in Central Islip in February 2010. Argueta was shot in the head and chest, and her son was shot in the head twice.
According to prosecutors, MS-13 gang members believed that Argueta had disrespected the gang when she allegedly sent a rival gang to attack MS-13 member Juan Garcia. They say her son was killed because of concerns that he would seek revenge for his mother's murder after he grew up.
Mejia, Garcia and Adalberto Ariel Guzman fled to El Salvador after the double-murder. They were all later arrested.
Guzman is serving a life sentence after his conviction, and Garcia is serving a life sentence after he pleaded guilty.