Nearly one month after being charged for fatally stabbing his classmate, 18-year-old Abel Cedeno is telling his side of the story.
The teen is accused of murdering 15-year-old Matthew McCree and seriously wounding 16-year-old Araine LaBoy in September after reportedly experiencing years of anti-gay bullying.
Cedeno told Gay City News that he was desperately defending himself from McCree’s repeated punches, adding that he was more concerned that the bullies had gang connections.
“I was trying to get him off me,” he said from Rikers Island. “I was afraid for my life.”
Cedeno said he purchased his own knife for protection, explaining that the gang members often brought their own knives and guns to school, and that he first pulled out the weapon on McCree in an unsuccessful attempt to get him to stop.
“No way did I think someone could die,” he said, adding that he eventually “snapped” when he was being beaten in the face. “I don’t remember that much.”
Cedeno’s defense team now fears that witnesses will not testify out of fear of retaliation from gang members who may be related to the kids involved.
The case is also drawing attention to the school’s inability to stop violence and bullying from taking place.
The 18-year-old said there were actually two teachers in the classroom when McCree first walked across the room to attack him, but no one did anything. That’s when he pulled out his knife to try and stop the 15-year-old’s advances, but it didn’t work.
“He hit my face twice. The second time I snapped,” he told Gay City News. “All the years of bullying, and I couldn’t control my body and started to defend myself.”
Cedeno faces second-degree murder charges and will testify before a Bronx grand jury this week.