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Elmhurst trucker guilty of murder plot over rent

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A jury of mostly women deliberated for fewer than five hours before convicting David Robles, 37, of 40-18 Ithaca St. of attempted murder, burglary, conspiracy, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with a March 2003 attack against two brothers who shared a $400-a-month apartment in his building, Brown said.

"The jury found that the defendant wielded a knife in a brutal and vicious attack at night upon two brothers who were repeatedly beaten, stabbed and slashed in their beds," Brown said. "Fortunately, both brothers survived their ordeal, recovered from their wounds and testified against their assailant so justice could be done."

Robles may be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, a Brown spokeswoman said.

William Lavery, 35, and his brother, David, 40, were so badly hurt in the knife attack that they required surgery for disfiguring injuries, Brown said.

The building's landlord allegedly offered to pay Robles and his roommate, Danny Machuca, $2,500 to "take out" the brothers so he could raise the monthly rent on the three-bedroom apartment by $1,000, Brown said.

Landlord Juan Basagoitia - an Argentine immigrant, according to law enforcement sources - also agreed to allow the attackers to live in the Lavery brothers' apartment free of charge for six months, according to the charges against him, Brown said.

Basagoitia, a 49-year-old bricklayer, faces charges of conspiracy, burglary, assault and criminal possession of a weapon, Brown said, and could get up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Armed with knives, Robles and Machuca slipped out of their second-floor apartment, scaled the fire escape and entered the Laverys' third-floor apartment through the kitchen window on March 4, 2003, Brown said. Once there, they stabbed the Laverys as they lay in bed around 2:20 a.m., Brown said.

The pair slipped back out the kitchen window but were arrested a short time after, Brown said. When police searched Robles and Machuca's second-floor apartment just hours after the attack, they found what appeared to be blood-stained clothing and a knife, Brown said.

Robles, who was held without bail, is slated to appear before Queens County Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Braun June 30 for sentencing, Brown said.

Machuca already has pleaded guilty and was scheduled to be sentenced before Queens County Criminal Court Justice James Griffin Aug. 25. He could also get 25 years in prison, but because he pleaded guilty may face a lighter sentence than Robles.

Basagoitia has been held without bail since he was arrested four days after the attack, Brown said. He will return to court June 17.

None of the defendants' lawyers could be contacted for comment.

Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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