Brooklyn man gets 20 to life in prison for gunning down East Elmhurst teen in Corona in 2021: DA

A Brooklyn man was sentenced Monday to 20 years to life in prison for murdering an East Elmhurst teenager in broad daylight in front of this Corona barbershop in the summer of 2021.
Photo via Google Maps

A Brooklyn gang member was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison Monday in Queens Supreme Court for gunning down a teenager at point-blank range in front of a Corona barbershop in July 2021.

Dennis Vassilenko, 21, of 72nd Street in Bay Ridge, was found guilty of murder in the second degree on June 6, following a two-week jury trial for fatally shooting 17-year-old Eduardo Hernandez-Martinez of 101st Street in East Elmhurst.

“The defendant shot and killed a teenager on the street in broad daylight, displaying a complete disregard for human life,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said following the sentencing.

According to trial testimony and court records, at approximately 4:20 p.m. on July 7, 2021, the victim met up with Vassilenko to sell him marijuana. Video surveillance footage showed Vassilenko leading the teen from the original meeting place, which had been selected by Hernandez-Martinez, in front of a smoke shop at 96-09 Roosevelt Ave. onto Junction Boulevard, and then in front of a barber shop located at 95-48 40th Rd.

While the teenager held a bag of marijuana to sell to his customer, Vassilenko pulled a firearm out of his backpack and fired two shots at the victim’s chest at point-blank range. Vassilenko immediately ran to a waiting getaway car driven by his co-defendant, Stephanie Pena.

EMS responded to the crime scene and rushed Hernandez-Martinez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Detectives from the regional fugitive task force busted Vassilenko during an early morning raid on Thursday, July 29, 2021, at his Brooklyn home.

Trial evidence and sworn testimony revealed that Vassilenko is a member of the Crips 8 Trey gang, who had been found guilty by the Department of Correction of having slashed multiple inmates on Rikers Island since being remanded following his 2021 arrest.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder sentenced Vassilenko to 20 years to life in prison.

“Today’s sentence speaks to the relentless pursuit of my office to get guns off the streets and prosecute drivers of crime,” Katz said. “We will continue to do this while also empowering our young people to make good choices.”

Vassilenko’s co-defendant, Stephanie Pena, 23, also from Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and was sentenced to one to three years in prison on June 10, 2022.

“I hope that the justice we’ve achieved in this case provides a measure of solace to the young victim’s family,” Katz said.