MS-13 member gets 25 years in prison for 2016 slaying

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

The MS-13 gang member who admitted his role in a Long Island slaying was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison.

Inside Central Islip court, Sara Hernandez cried and clutched a funeral card of her 18-year old son, Jose Pena, as she watched a judge sentence one of his convicted killers, 21-year-old Elmer Lopez.

Lopez, a member of MS-13, got 25 years in prison. The sentence is less than the 30 or more years he could have received for pleading guilty to racketeering charges in connection with Pena's death and an attempted murder.

In 2016, Pena was lured into a wooded area near Pilgrim Psychiatric Center and repeatedly stabbed by MS-13 members. Prosecutors say Pena was a member of MS-13 and that Lopez and others believed he was gay and had become a snitch.

Lopez's attorneys on Tuesday asked the judge to show "compassion," saying Lopez has now distanced himself from the gang.

Lopez was also given a chance to address the court and read from a statement. He begged for forgiveness from the Pena family as well as his own. He also told the judge that during his time in prison so far, he has found Jesus.

"What really matters is Jesus Christ," he said. "I'm preparing myself to be a good person in society."

The judge said he believed Lopez's remorse was "genuine and authentic," which is why he gave him 25 years instead of 30 or more. He also said that when Lopez is released from federal prison in 25 years, he will be monitored for five years if he is not immediately deported to his native El Salvador.

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