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14-Year-Old Girl Stood Up to Knife-Wielding Robbers, Police Say

By Katie Honan | December 18, 2013 2:47pm
 A 14-year-old girl was punched when she intervened in an attack and robbery Dec. 12, 2013 on a man in Corona.
A 14-year-old girl was punched when she intervened in an attack and robbery Dec. 12, 2013 on a man in Corona.
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CORONA — A 14-year-old girl trying to help a 23-year-old who was beaten and robbed by a group of men in Corona early Saturday morning was punched in the face when she intervened, police said.

A group of eight to ten men approached the 23-year-old man on 37th Avenue near 105th Street at about 2 a.m on Thursday, grabbing him from behind and asking what gang he was in, according to police.

The suspects then punched and kicked him in the head, face and body, bruising his leg and cutting his mouth, police said. The attackers also went through the victim's pockets, taking his wallet and cellphone.

When one of the suspects, Bernardo Coyotl, 25, took out a knife, a 14-year-old girl stepped in to  try to stop the attack, police said.

The girl was then punched by one of the men, causing her lip to swell, according to the NYPD.

When she took out her phone to call the police, one of the suspects grabbed it and threw it to the ground, police said.

The group then fled, but five suspects — Coyotl; Magdeleno Martinez, 23; Jesus Villalba, 20; Reynaldo Villalba, 22 and Esteban Villalva, 35 were arrested by Officer Anthony Nunziato from the 115th Precinct soon after the attack.

The men were arraigned on Friday and charged with robbery, assault, criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.

A lawyer for Coyotl, Gary Miret, said the case is under investigation but said his his client "still maintains his innocence in this matter."

Victor Knapp, who represents Renaldo Villalba, said his client was at Our Lady of Sorrows church at 104th Street and 37th Avenue late Friday night celebrating the Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day and wasn't involved with the fight at all.

Villalba was there with his brother, Jesus, as well as Villalva and Martinez, and don't know Coyotl at all, Knapp said.

"After they're leaving the church, they're walking down the street and lo and behold the police swarm in and they're getting arrested," he said.

The younger Villalba's lawyer, Scott Bookstein, said they placed flowers at the altar for the Virgin Mary that night and are victims of misidentification.

"Just like you don't want guilty people to get away with criminal activity, you certainly don't want innocent people being charged for crimes they didn't commit," he said.

Lawyers for Martinez and Villalba could not be immediately reached.

They are due back in court on Jan 10.