Last two gang members sentenced in fatal Woodhaven beating

By Philip Newman

The final two members of a group of teenagers who beat and stomped an 18-year-old Long Island man to death in March 2011 have been sentenced to prison in what Queens District Attorney Richard Brown called a “horrific” and “heinous” case that occurred after the victim attended a birthday party hosted by two openly gay men in Woodhaven.

Late last month Jonathan Echevarria, 21, of Brooklyn pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and Nolis Ogando, 23, of Ridgewood pleaded guilty to gang assault.

“This is the final chapter in this horrific case,” Brown said. “The victim, who did nothing to provoke this heinous attack, was leaving a birthday celebration. He was chased down by the defendants, who yelled anti-gay slurs as they pursued him.”

When the group caught up to Anthony Collao, a recent high school graduate, the defendants punched, kicked and viciously beat him and he died in a hospital a few days later, the DA said.

Echevarria was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas last week to 18 years in prison to be followed by five years supervision. Ogando was given eight years and five years supervision.

Brown said Collao and another person had just left the party in Woodhaven on March 12, 2011 when six defendants — Alex Velez, Calvin Pietri, Luis Tabales, Christopher Lozada, Echevarria and Ogando— chased the two men under the false impression they were gay.

Trial testimony revealed that they attacked Callao with a variety of weapons, including a piece of lattice fencing and section of metal pipe. About 15 minutes later police apprehended five of the defendants and recovered a metal pipe with blood on it as well as a piece of fence.

The attackers stripped the victim of his Atlanta Braves baseball cap and sneakers.

Pietri, 22, of Woodhaven pleaded guilty in May 2013 to gang assault and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Tables, 22, of Richmond Hill also pleaded guilty to gang assault and was sentenced to 12 years. Lozada, 22, of Woodhaven entered a guilty plea to assault in December 2013 and drew a prison sentence of four years. Velez of Queens pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April 2016 and was sentenced to 18 years,

“Hopefully, the sentencing of these two defendants will bring some comfort to the family of the man killed and send a message that bigotry in any form is not tolerated in Queens County,’’ Brown said.

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