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Briarwood man foundguilty of murdering teen

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Thomas Hernandez, 21, of 135-22 Coolidge Ave. in Briarwood faces a maximum sentence of 25 years...

By Jennifer Warren

A Briarwood man was convicted of murdering a 16-year-old by beating him to death with a baseball bat in Rego Park, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Thomas Hernandez, 21, of 135-22 Coolidge Ave. in Briarwood faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the murder of Tony Lee, killed at the corner of 63rd Avenue and Alderdon Street in April 1999, DA spokeswoman Mary de Bourbon said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced March 23.

Testimony during the five-week jury trial before State Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter revealed that on April 23, 1999 Hernandez and three teens attacked 16-year-old Lee, de Bourbon said.

Hernandez, who took the stand during the trial, admitted to kicking Lee while he was on the ground, saying he “got caught up in the moment,” Newsday reported, but Hernandez denied ever wielding a bat.

Hernandez’s three accomplices — two of whom were 15 and one of whom was 14 at the time — admitted joining Hernandez in the attack and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The DA’s office said testimony, drawn by prosecuting attorney Deborah Nathan, revealed one of the accomplices had been assaulted at a nearby party and he said that Lee was one of the people inside the house when it happened.

After seeing Lee on the street, the accomplice then ran to find Hernandez and his friends, after which Hernandez repeatedly hit Lee on the head with the bat, the DA’s office said.

Two of the accomplices also struck Lee, but the DA’s office did not specify which ones.

Two of their cases are sealed because of their ages, but in the third case the defendant was sentenced to two-to-six years in prison, de Bourbon said.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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