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Jury selection began Monday in the trial of five men accused in the machete slaying of a 15-year-old boy at a Bronx bodega last summer.

Five suspected gang leaders face multiple charges in the murder of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz, who was killed in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Police say the defendants mistook Guzman-Feliz for the member of a rival gang, leading to the June 2018 attack at a bodega on East 183rd Street in Belmont. The teenager was not affiliated with any gangs; in fact, he was a member of the NYPD Explorers Program, a group for young people interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement.

Jury selection is expected to take weeks. All five defendants are charged with first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy, gang assault and criminal possession, WABC reported.


Overall, 14 people have been charged in the killing. The other nine are expected in court next month, WPIX reported. All 14 face life sentences if convicted.

Guzman-Feliz's slaying was caught on video. After being dragged outside the bodega by several people, beaten and slashed repeatedly with a machete, Guzman-Feliz was seen running back into the store, where someone inside seemed to point him away. The teenager died from neck wounds after attempting to run three blocks to a hospital.

The teenager's murder led to the #JusticeForJunior social media campaign and the founding of the Safe Haven Bodega Program in late January. The shop where the slaying occurred was outfitted with a panic button, shatterproof glass, and a live feed to the local police precinct. The United Bodegas Association said it aimed for hundreds of bodegas throughout the city to be similarly equipped. But critics have decried the cost of the equipment: Between $3,000 and $4,000.

The New York City Police Foundation has announced plans to set up a scholarship in Guzman-Feliz's name.

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