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Queens Chronicle

Corona man sentenced in drive-by shooting of little girl

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Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2009 12:00 am

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Tuesday that a Corona man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old girl as she played in a fire hydrant spray on a warm summer night in 2006.

The defendant, Jeffrey Matista, 20, of Calloway Street in Corona, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter last month and was sentenced today to 25 years in prison by Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise.

His cousin, Joewyn Diaz, 18,pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the case last month and faces a sentence of 13 1/2 years in prison.

According to the charges, just before midnight on July 17, 2006, following a verbal dispute with other teenagers, Diaz drove a Honda Accord southbound on 99th Street in Corona, with Matista riding in the passenger seat.

As the car approached the vicinity of 55-16 99th St., Matista lowered the car window and fired a handgun numerous times in the direction of individuals standing on the street.

One of the bullets struck Genesis Regalado, 11, above her right eye, fatally wounding her.The defendants then fled the scene.

“Nothing can be more important than keeping our neighborhoods as safe places for our children in which to grow up,” said Brown, speaking at the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway about the recent Queens Gun Buyback Program. “Far too often we have had tragic situations where precious young lives were taken after being caught in the crossfire of gun battles and far too often we have seen gang and drug related violence resulting in the death of those involved.”

Diaz was apprehended in Queens and, based on information provided by the NYPD, Matista was taken into custody by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after he arrived there on an American Airlines flight from Kennedy International Airport.

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