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Survivor of 2017 MS-13 massacre in Central Islip comes face to face with accused “Little Devil” at trial

By Jennifer McLogan

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    NEW YORK, New York (WCBS) — Tuesday was the second day of the MS-13 quadruple murder trial on Long Island.

Sparks flew during graphic and sordid testimony on how four teens were slaughtered in a Central Islip park five years ago.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the boyfriend of the defendant, the medical examiner, the detective in charge, and the sole survivor of the heinous brutality all took the stand.

Chilling and emotional testimony continued Tuesday as the sole survivor of a massacre by the notorious MS-13 gang came face to face with Leniz Escobar, whose social media handle is “La Diablita,” meaning “Little Devil.”

Escobar is charged in the quadruple April 2017 machete attack that left four young friends bludgeoned to death in a Central Islip park.

The survivor, Elmer Alexander Artiaga-Ruiz, told the jury through an interpreter “La Diablita lured us to a park to smoke marijuana. We were soon ambushed by MS-13 gangsters. Eight or nine covered their faces with sweaters, told us to get down on our knees. They had weapons … machetes. I jumped a fence and stone wall, ran for my life. One shouted behind me, ‘Hack him!’ Thank God I managed to get away.”

But the defense tried to poke holes in the testimony, asking:

“Why was Ruiz spared? Is he MS-13, too?”

“Were the victims members of a rival gang?”

“Why didn’t he call 911 immediately?”

“Why did he go home and go to sleep?”

Prosecutors say the victims were marked for death for posing in social media photos disrespecting MS-13.

After the killings, Escobar allegedly bragged about her role in a phone call that was recorded by law enforcement, telling her boyfriend in code she was happy “four took the train and saw the light. One got away.”

“Ms. Escobar maintains her innocence. She has pled not guilty. We have just started what is going to be a three- or four-week trial,” defense attorney Jesse Siegel said.

Following the funerals of the young men and arrests of other MS-13 in another high-profile murder case of teens Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, then President Donald Trump came to meet with the families in an effort to focus on the government’s battle with gangs.

This trial is highlighting the ongoing challenge.

Escobar’s jailed boyfriend is a witness for the prosecution. He testified he was among a dozen MS-13 who murdered the victims in cold blood, and that Escobar lured them there.

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