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Two get up to life in prison for killing stranger they mistakenly thought was gang rival

NEW YORK -  Two men who were convicted last month for the stabbing death of a young man who they thought was a member of a rival gang have each been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder at a trial in which they each had separate juries.

Gilberto Serrano, 25, of 98-05 Northern Boulevard, in Queens, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.  Miguel Juarez, 26, of 53-13 New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn. Brooklyn, was sentenced earlier this month to 25 years to life.  Both men were convicted at trial of second-degree murder.

The murder stemmed from an incident on July 14, 2012, when the victim, Abel Xochimitl, 20, left La Parranda bar located at 2366 86th Street in Bensonhurst. The defendants confronted Xochimitl near the corner of Bay 35th Street and 86th Street and asked him, “Que barrio?” which in English means, “What neighborhood?” but is also gang parlance for: “What gang do you belong to?” 

The defendants told police that Xochimitl responded, “Panchito.  Brighton Beach.” They then began to attack him with a broken bottle and a knife, stabbing his face, neck, chest and back. The victim’s jugular vein and right lung were perforated and he bled to death.

Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said, “The victim in this case had his whole life ahead of him when he was senselessly cut down by these two defendants. Now they must pay the price for their vicious actions.”