Two men get lengthy prison terms for slashing Whitestone teen in mistaken identity case

Whitestone slashing 22
Photo by RHSNEWS

Justice has been served to two men from Bayside and Pennsylvania who were connected to the December 2015 slashing of a Whitestone girl, prosecutors announced.

Wilson Lai, 26, of the Oakland Gardens section of Bayside, and Devon Berkley, 39, of Allentown, PA, have been sentenced to 19 and 18 years behind bars, respectively. Both of their sentences will be followed by five years of post-release supervision, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. The sentencing took place on Feb. 14.

Lai had a one-year relationship with a Whitestone girl — who was 14 at the time — that began in June 2013, prosecutors said. Two and a half years later, Lai and Berkley conspired to assault the teenager.

On Dec. 16, 2015, in a case of mistaken identity, Berkley twice slashed the face of a 14-year-old Chinese exchange student as she walked toward her school near 13th Avenue. The victim was hospitalized and recovered from the violent attack, but was left with two long facial scars.

Lai and Berkley were arrested in May 2016 after a lengthy investigation by the 109th Precinct Detective Squad. Each man pleaded guilty to assault charges in January.

“The victim in this case was not the intended target, but nonetheless she will have to live with the pain of the slashing for the rest of her life, as well as the permanent scars that remain visible on her face,” Brown said. “The defendants have now been sentenced and will be incarcerated for a very long time as punishment for their crime and to protect society.”

Assemblyman Ron Kim, who held a press conference with the young victim and her mother shortly after the attack, said he was “relieved to see that justice was served.” Kim has also introduced legislation that, if passed, would require any person or entity that seeks to offer supplemental educational services or learning programs to register with the superintendent of the community school district.

“We still need to do more to protect young students who come to our country in pursuit of a better education,” Kim said.