On September 27, 2017, a scuffle between teenage schoolboys in the third period in a Bronx school left one boy, Matthew McCree, dead and another, Ariane Laboy severely injured. Abel Cedeno was the perpetrator.
Cedeno argued that he had been the victim of rampant homophobia and constant bullying for years. He claimed to have informed school authorities about the abuse he was suffering but claimed nothing was done. He started bringing a switch knife with him to school for protection, something he said was typical for many of the kids at this school.
On the day of the killing, Cedeno lost his cool after paper balls were aimed in his direction. Some eyewitnesses claimed that on being confronted by Cedeno, McCree had immediately apologized for throwing the balls. However, in the ensuing scuffle, Cedeno allegedly lashed out, injuring Laboy,16, and McCree, 15. McCree later died of his injuries.
Cedeno argued that he was fearful of his life after been on the receiving end of brutal bullying for years. The prosecuting lawyers and families of McCree and Laboy fiercely denied that either of them had been bullies.
Cedeno was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, assault, and criminal weapons possession at his bench trial on July 15, 2019.
Cedeno tried to convince Bronx Supreme Court Justice Michael Gross that he had acted out of fear. However, while the judge didn’t deny that the defendant had suffered bullying, he stated that the seriousness of Cedeno’s action required a stiff punishment.
Cross said to Cedeno at sentencing, “I believe you paid an emotional price for the repeated acts of being bullied, which undermined your self-image and psychological well-being.” But, he added: “Your history is not an excuse for what you did.”
Gross refused to allow Cedeno youthful offender status and therefore sentenced him to 14 years for the killing of 15-year-old Matthew McCree and the near-fatal assault on 16-year-old Ariane Laboy.
Killing in the Classroom airs on Love and Hate Crime at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.