FONDA — Michael Martuscello spoke in court Tuesday not only as the uncle of Alexander Martuscello, but also as one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene of his nephew's slaying.
The veteran Amsterdam officer recalled how he and his partner responded to a shots-fired call on Glen Avenue in March, where he found his nephew lying dead inside the front door.
"I won't get into any of the details of that night, but I won't forget it," the officer said in court. "I can't forget it."
Alexander's uncle was one of three family members to speak at the sentencings Tuesday of teenagers Raymond Matros, Anthony Matros and Christopher Malave Jr. for their involvement in the homicide.
Each pleaded guilty in October to manslaughter for their roles in causing Alexander Martuscello's death. Judge Felix Catena on Tuesday imposed the agreed-upon sentences: 24 years for the shooter, Raymond Matros, and 10 years each for Malave and Anthony Matros.
The teens went to the Glen Avenue house on March 9 to settle a score over drugs, Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski has said. Their dispute was with others in the residence, not Alexander Martuscello, who happened to be at the door when Raymond Matros fired a shotgun blast through it.
Martuscello had been sleeping in the front room when the assailants arrived about 3 a.m. He died at the scene.
Tuesday was an opportunity for Martuscello's family to remember him in court — and to encourage those involved in his killing to emerge from prison as better people.
For their part, the three teens offered their own messages of apology, adding that they knew whatever they said would help little.
"It's sad not only for my family, and certainly for Alex, but your family here, for your poor decisions," Michael Martuscello said. "I just hope that you can, at some point, turn your lives around."
Martuscello's father, Daniel Martuscello, and his sister Dulce Martuscello offered similar sentiments.
The father recalled his son, dead at 23, as "a kind young man who would never hurt anyone," whose birth mother sent him to the United States from Guatemala to be adopted at the age of 6 for a better life.
"Unfortunately, the dream she had for her son will never be realized," Daniel Martuscello said. "The dreams that I had for Alex will never be realized."
He listed off the many life events that he won't get to see Alexander achieve: He won't be there for the holidays. He won't get married and have children of his own.
"All that was taken away by one senseless act," Daniel Martuscello said.
He also recounted that the most important thing he always told his son was to be a good person.
"So now, I will tell you. My hope is that the three of you will one day be good people," he said.
The teens stood in succession to give their own brief statements.
Raymond Matros, 18 at the time he fired the shot that killed Alexander Martuscello, spoke first.
"I would like to say that I am truly sorry to the family of Alexander Martuscello, and I'm sorry that their loved one has been taken away from them," Raymond Matros said. "And I know anything that I say right now can't help them, but I am truly sorry for what I did."
Anthony Matros, 16 at the time of the crime, wiped his eyes before saying he is "sincerely sorry."
Malave indicated he wrote down a statement ahead of time, but he felt like it wasn't good enough.
"I don't know what to say," Malave said. "A loved one has been taken, and I honestly can't say that I know what it feels like. But I am truly sorry for what happened to your brother, your son, your nephew, your grandson. I'm sorry."
The defendants were represented by attorneys Peter Moschetti, Mark Sacco and Derrick Hogan.
Alexander Martuscello came to the United States with his older sister, Dulce. In her own statement to the court, she quoted a line from "A Bronx Tale," that the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.
She recalled her initial shock at hearing from McCoski that the maximum term possible for the three defendants was 24 years. Was that justice? she recalled asking.
"I'm actually not angry at that," Dulce Martuscello said Tuesday. "I'm happy that you guys will get a second chance, but it will be up to you guys to do something with your life."
The judge cited the common thread of forgiveness in the family's statements.
"It's an indication of the character of that family and how much they care and their faith and their belief," Catena said. "And you are very fortunate to hear those comments from the three of them, and I hope you take those comments and never, ever forget those comments."