At 3 p.m. on September 27, hours after a morning fight in a Bronx classroom that left Matthew McCree dead and the bullied gay teen Abel Cedeno, who says he was defending himself with a knife, charged with manslaughter, McCree’s brother, Kevon Dennis, aided by an accomplice, Jonathan Espinal, is alleged to have menaced, beaten, and robbed student witnesses to the incident using a knife, stolen cellphones that might contain evidence, tried to ascertain where Cedeno’s family lives and who his friends were so that they could retaliate, and tried to intimidate witnesses into silence.
Kevon Dennis is charged with seven counts, the highest a B felony for first-degree robbery using a dangerous instrument, a knife. He was set to appear in Bronx Criminal Court on March 28 as Gay City News was going to press.
Even with these charges weighing on him, Dennis was arrested in the court’s lobby on March 6 as Cedeno was exiting after an appearance in his manslaughter case. Despite Cedeno being surrounded by a police escort for his safety, Dennis is alleged to have tried to jump Cedeno, shouting, “I don’t give a fuck, I’m gonna fuck him up.” He is also alleged to have said, “I could have gotten him. I don’t care if I go to jail.” He was subdued by court officers and issued a desk appearance ticket.
Despite his alleged violent witness tampering and threats to Cedeno and his family, Dennis has been allowed to attend Cedeno’s trial. Christopher R. Lynn, Cedeno’s defense co-counsel, is seeking an order of protection for Cedeno and his family from Dennis, calling him a “clear and persistent danger” to them. He wants Dennis barred from the court during Cedeno’s trial, which resumes April 23.
Cedeno, who is out on bail, his mother, and his sisters have had to move to undisclosed locations due to the threats against them.
According to the September 27 report from Police Officer Daniel Martinez of the 48th precinct, Dennis “cornered the informant [a student from the high school], struck informant with an open hand and closed fist and stated in sum and substance, ‘What do you know about this? Were you there? Do you have anything to do with it? Do you know where Abel lives? Do you know anyone else who talks to Abel? What’s in your pockets?”
Espinal is alleged to have taken the student’s cellphone and said, “It’s ours now. Don’t say our names. Pretend you don’t know us. Walk up the block.” When the student tried to get his phone back, one the defendants said to them, ‘I’m not afraid to go to jail. Do you want to end up like my nephew?”
Kevon Dennis is, according to McCree family attorney Sanford Rubenstein, the brother of Matthew McCree and son of Louna Dennis — though some reports have identified him as McCree’s uncle. Louna Dennis is suing the city for $25 million in the death of her son McCree. She has insisted repeatedly and angrily that her sons are not “bullies or gang members” — despite photographic evidence to the contrary — and has said publicly that if Cedeno’s defense counsel won’t stop saying that “there will be consequences.”
Louna Dennis claims to have obtained cellphone video of the classroom fight via Facebook, but it is also possible that they were obtained by her son feloniously. While Rubenstein claims video shows Cedeno charging into the classroom with a knife, the video circulating on the news does not show that. It does show McCree pummeling Cedeno hard about the face and Cedeno striking back with a knife. Witness statements say that McCree charged across the classroom to attack Cedeno after he confronted the class about being bullied.
Cedeno has said he knew McCree to be a gang member and possibly armed when he was attacked, saying that McCree had previously beaten up his friend Brandon, who also is alleged to have had his phone stolen by Dennis and is now living at an undisclosed location.
Kevon Dennis’ lawyer, Andrew Rendeiro, did not return calls for comment on his clients felonious robbery case.
Patrice O’Shaughnessy, spokesperson for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, wrote in an email that they will prosecute both the Cedeno and Dennis cases “to the fullest extent of the law.” As to whether they constitute a conflict for her office she wrote, “They are completely separate cases. Since they are pending cases we cannot comment outside of what is said in court.”
No witness tampering charges were brought against Kevon Dennis.
Lynn wants a special prosecutor appointed to handle one or the other of these cases given what he sees as a conflict. He is appealing to the court and to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Lynn is also complaining about the fact that he and his co-counsel, Robert J. Feldman, were not informed by the DA’s office about the September 27 or the March 6 arrest of Kevon Dennis related to their case. Indeed, no other news outlet other than Gay City News has reported on the multiple charges against Dennis nor on the threats to Cedeno, his family, and to witnesses.