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Two Elmhurst men charged in Woodside murder

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Two men wanted by police in July’s gang-related murder of a Woodside waitress were arrested last week after cops received an anonymous tip, authorities said.

Maria Vivar, 22, of 39-14 61st St. in Woodside, was returning home from her job as a waitress July 30 when she was gunned down at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 64th Street at 3:54 a.m., shot once through the chest, police said.

She died on the street corner before medical crews could bring her to the hospital.

Officers from the 108th Precinct detectives squad arrested Roberto Batista, 20, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 inside a residence at 40-36 Gleane St. in Elmhurst, where they found him with members of his family, police said.

A few hours later at 2 a.m. last Thursday they apprehended Miguel Martinez, 18, in an abandoned house at 41-23 77th St. in Elmhurst.

Both men were charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon at their arraignment last Thursday before Judge Lenora Gerald in Queens Criminal Court, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Media outlets focused attention on the case in late August when police arrested the first suspect, 17-year-old Augustina Lopez of Elmhurst, who faces the same charges as the two men.

Police put out descriptions and photographs of the two suspects, who were then still at large, to seek help from the public.

“Thankfully we got this anonymous tip,” said Sgt. Michael Blangiforti, the commanding officer of the 108th Precinct detectives squad. “We believe that it was because of some of the publicity that was given to this case ... that led this anonymous tipster to call us. She actually saw one of them.”

Vivar was a Mexican immigrant who worked at a restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue near where she was shot.

All three suspects are believed to be affiliated with the Mexican gang known as M18, which frequents the neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Corona, Blangiforti said.

Vivar was apparently killed because she was trying to dissociate herself from members of the gang, although it is unclear whether she was ever actually a member, Blangiforti said.

“The shooting was senseless and disturbing,” Blangiforti said. “She was seeking to make a living for herself and she was shot to death because of this gang.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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