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6/23/09 10:08 PM
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Member Since: 1/1/01
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Melville man sentenced in fatal shooting



10:03 PM EDT, June 23, 2009

A man who shot two men within two hours in July 2007 - killing one - was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison for second-degree murder and weapon possession Tuesday in Riverhead.

Last August, James McArthur, 22, of Melville, had just been released from prison for shooting a rival gang member in the leg when Suffolk detectives arrested him for a homicide that had been unsolved for more than a year.

Two hours after shooting the Crips gang member in Huntington Station on July 15, 2007, McArthur shot Sebastian Bonilla, 38, a day laborer from Honduras, in the stomach. McArthur was trying to rob Bonilla's nephew and Bonilla intervened, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.

Bonilla's killing went unsolved while McArthur was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for the earlier gang shooting and for violating probation on an unrelated 2004 shooting, Kurtzrock said.

Suffolk detectives eventually found a witness who linked McArthur to Bonilla's death. "He thought he was going home," Kurtzrock said of his arrest upon being released from prison.

A jury found McArthur guilty of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in May.

Tuesday, Alexander Diaz, McArthur's intended robbery victim, told Judge Stephen L. Braslow in Spanish, "What I would like to ask is justice, justice for my uncle."

Bonilla often sent money to his wife and four children in Honduras, Kurtzrock said.

McArthur apologized to Diaz in court but denied shooting Bonilla and asked for leniency.


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