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Murderer's Bullet Will Be Lodged in My Daughter's Hip Forever, Dad Says

By Gwynne Hogan | August 31, 2017 11:48am
 Bryan Aponte, 22, appears in court for his sentencing Wednesday.
Bryan Aponte, 22, appears in court for his sentencing Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The 13-year-old girl shot as she walked to school in 2015 will live with the bullet lodged in her body forever, the teen's father said at the shooter's sentencing.

"She is going to carry a bullet in her the rest of her life," said Facundo Newbery, an artist and father of the now 15-year-old, said in court Wednesday.

He called for stricter laws to keep guns out of the hands of men like 22-year-old Bryan Aponte, who shot his daughter in a spray of gunfire that killed one man and wounded another in October of 2015.

Aponte was convicted earlier this month and sentenced Wednesday to 33 years to life in prison.

"It's really sad. People are running around with guns in the street," Newbery continued. "It's just very unfortunate that things get crazy out of hand this way."

 Michael Matusiak, 53, stopped some car thieves who then fatally shot him, co-workers said.
Michael Matusiak, 53, stopped some car thieves who then fatally shot him, co-workers said.
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Facebook/michael.matusiak and DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

The shooting happened after Aponte was caught trying to break into cars on Knickerbocker Avenue near Grattan Street at 7:50 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2015, authorities said.

When he was confronted by a couple of metal workers, Aponte unleashed a barrage of gunfire, killing Michael Matusiak, 53, while injuring his co-worker and the teenage girl, prosecutors said.

The shooting turned Knickerbocker Avenue into "some scene from the Wild West," lead prosector Howard Jackson added.

Aponte, of Bushwick, stood stone-faced before Judge Neil Firetog as he delivered the sentence. Two rows behind him, his mother broke down in sobs, burrowing her face in her hands.

Before the judge's decision, Matusiak's brother-in-law, Santos Lebron, 62, recalled the man's kind demeanor and how he would always help out his East Williamsburg neighbors by carrying groceries for elderly residents, or helping them fix up their cars.

Matusiak, a car enthusiast, was planning to marry his girlfriend of 12 years just two months before he died, Lebron said. He had been driving a tow truck for many years and had just started work at the Knickerbocker Avenue metal shop two days before his death. 

He said that no amount of prison time would provide justice for the family.

"Mr. Aponte will celebrate his next birthday. He will celebrate Christmas," Lebron said. "[Mike] was denied these opportunities. He was left by Mr. Aponte dying in the gutter between two cars."

Aponte, who the judge said still hasn't admitted to committing the crimes, declined to speak at his sentencing, citing the advice of his lawyer.

His attorney, Harold Baker, said he planned to appeal the verdict to have a chance to prove this client was not the killer, while acknowledging that Aponte had been mixed up in "gangs and drugs and alcohol." 

A second man, Ryan Cruzado, was charged with hindering prosecution in the 2015 shooting. Charges against him are still pending, and he is due back in court on Thursday.