Two face up to life in prison in Hollis murder; one suspect also charged in fatal stabbing two days later

Raymond Kenner and Alexander Stephens were charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of a Hollis man, and Kenner was also arraigned for another murder two nights later in Jamaica. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Two men were charged in the fatal stabbing of Hollis man last month, and one of the co-defendants was also charged with the murder of a second victim in Jamaica two days later, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Raymond Kenner, 22, of Manhattan, and Alexander Stephens, 31, of 109th Road in Hollis, were both charged with murder and were arraigned on Dec. 30 before Queens Criminal Court Judge David Kirschner on a complaint charging them with two counts of murder, robbery, tampering with evidence and weapons charges. Kenner was also charged with killing another man with a knife in Jamaica on Dec. 23 in a second complaint.

According to the charges in the first complaint, just before 9 p.m. on Dec. 21, the defendants were allegedly observed on video surveillance following Andrew Cunje as he walked along Jamaica Avenue from 201st Street to Carpenter Avenue, about one block from his home. Kenner and Stephens then confronted the 25-year-old victim and moments later, Cunje was on the ground bleeding.

Katz said the victim was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was treated for multiple stab wounds to his back and torso. He later died from his injuries, police said.

Two days later, according to the second complaint, Kenner was seen on video surveillance around 11 p.m. on 89th Avenue near Rufus King Park. Kener was seen with Benjamin Vasquez, who was stabbed multiple times. The 29-year-old victim died from his injuries.

Detectives tracked Kenner to The Wolcott Hotel in Manhattan, a shelter for the homeless transitioning from prison, where, according to the charges, he was apprehended wearing the same clothes he was seen wearing on video as he followed the victim on Dec. 21 and there was blood allegedly splattered on his clothing. Katz added that police recovered a folding knife allegedly from one of Kenner’s pockets.

When Stephens was taken into custody he was wearing the same boots he was wearing in the video surveillance on Dec. 21, and the boots also allegedly had blood stains on them.

“As we close out 2021, sadly we have another two killings in our neighborhoods and one man is charged in both slayings just two days apart,” Katz said following their arraignment. “A second co-defendant allegedly took part in one of the stabbings. This kind of violence and lawlessness is creating havoc and heartache in our communities and must end. The two defendants are now in custody and charged with very serious crimes.”’

Judge Kirschner ordered the defendant to return to court on Jan. 4. If convicted, Kenner and Stephens face up to 25 years to life in prison. Kenner faces another 25 years to life in prison on the second complaint.