A 24-year-old husband was shot point-blank in the head when a group of men known for carrying out armed robberies invaded his home in the middle of the night in 2006, according to federal prosecutors.
Edwin Cortorreal, 36, also known as “Crazy Ed,” was extradited from the Dominican Republic and brought to the U.S. in 2020, about 14 years after fatally shooting Kelly Diaz in Manhattan, New York, where he lived with his wife, officials said.
Cortorreal has been found guilty of one count of murder in aid of racketeering, one count of the use of a firearm resulting in death and one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced in an April 26 news release.
“Edwin Cortorreal conducted a terrifying, gunpoint home invasion robbery in Washington Heights, during which he shot Kelly Diaz in the head, killing him in front of his wife,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“We hope today’s verdict will bring some solace to the victim’s family.”
Attorney Benjamin Silverman, who represents Cortorreal, told McClatchy News in a statement on April 27 that they plan on filing an appeal.
“The prosecution was built on testimony by a man who state authorities did not believe when they deported Edwin in 2010, without charging him with murder, and outmoded DNA testing that should never have been allowed into evidence,” Silverman said.
More on the armed robbery and fatal shooting of Diaz
Cortorreal belonged to the “Hot Boys,” described by prosecutors as a “violent robbery crew” that sold narcotics in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan from at least 2006 through 2013.
The group targeted locations where they believed items of value were inside, such as drugs or illegal gambling money, and used firearms and hydraulic pumps to conduct break-ins, according to an indictment.
On the evening of Oct. 27, 2006, Cortorreal and four others broke into the apartment of Diaz and his wife in Washington Heights by using a hydraulic pump to open their door, prosecutors said.
At the time, Cortorreal helped duct-tape Diaz to a chair as the group threw his wife down on the ground, according to prosecutors.
When the group went to ultimately leave the apartment, Cortorreal turned back, officials said.
He walked up to Diaz, pointed a gun at his head and fatally shot him “as his wife looked on,” according to prosecutors.
“Less than a year later, Cortorreal planned to commit another armed robbery, during which he plotted to kill the victims to avoid leaving behind any witnesses,” the release said.
In the years after Diaz’s death, the New York City Police Department and FBI officers pursued Diaz, whom they located in the Dominican Republic, according to a Feb. 3, 2020, news release.
The mandatory sentence for the charge of murder in aid of racketeering is life in prison, prosecutors said.