Teen gets 50 years in MS-13 killing of 14-year-old Maryland girl

A 17-year-old, who pleaded guilty to the brutal gang-linked slaying of a 14-year-old Maryland girl last spring, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Josue Fuentes-Ponce, who was 16 at the time of the killing, had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and participating in a gang.

He was one of four teens who authorities said drove Ariana Funes-Diaz to a wooded area in Riverdale, Maryland, in April and attacked her with a baseball bat and a machete. Her body was discovered near a creek a month later.

Police said the teens, who were members of the MS-13 street gang, were worried Funes-Diaz would rat them out for an earlier gang-related kidnapping and robbery in D.C.

Fuentes-Ponce was formally sentenced to life in prison, but the judge suspended all but 50 years. In addition, he will be subjected to five years of supervised probation after his release.

One of the other teens charged in the slaying, 18-year-old Joel Escobar, pleaded guilty in November and is due to be sentenced Feb. 26.

Edwin Rios, 19, has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial in April.

Another defendant — also a 14-year-old girl — was initially charged as an adult, but her case was moved to the juvenile court system.

In a separate, earlier case, Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar were arrested in May 2018 on charges of attempted murder and attempted robbery, and were transferred to a state-run youth detention center. They were eventually released following the disposition of that case.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said both teens were in the country illegally, and local authorities failed to honor a detainer request to hold the teens. State and local authorities said they were following state guidance, which calls compliance with ICE detainers voluntary.

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