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L.I. killer sentenced in Elmhurst nightclub slay

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John Lundi, of West Babylon, L.I., has been sentenced to 35 years to life in prison for a 2008 killing in which he fatally stabbed a man eight times outside an Elmhurst nightclub, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

A jury found Lundi, 26, guilty of killing 22-year-old Brooklyn resident Christopher Cotto after a nine-day trial in September, the DA said. Lundi was convicted in Queens Supreme Court of murder, two counts of gang assault, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence, the DA said.

Justice Richard Buchter presided over the trial and sentenced him to 25 years to life for the murder charge and 10 years in prison for an assault on Cotto’s girlfriend, Tiffany Lebron, the DA said.

Three other West Babylon residents who pleaded guilty to involvement in the attack have yet to be sentenced, the DA said.

“The crimes of which the defendant has been convicted were senseless and vicious and perpetrated by an individual who chose a weapon over words,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in an Oct. 11 statement. “I hope that the surviving victim and the deceased’s family can find some measure of solace in today’s sentence and in the knowledge that the defendant will be behind bars for many years as punishment for his actions.”

Cotto and his girlfriend Lebron had been leaving the Krystal Club, at 79-09 Queens Blvd., in Elmhurst before 4 a.m. Nov. 27, 2008, the night of the fatal attack. Lundi made a comment to Lebron and, after Cotto came to her defense, Lundi threw a punch at him, the DA said.

Lebron punched Lundi in response and knocked him to the ground, which led to several of Lundi’s friends joining the fray, the DA said. In the course of the fight, Lundi stabbed Cotto in the chest with a butterfly knife, killing him, the DA said. Cotto received eight stab wounds and blunt force injuries from the attack.

Three others pleaded guilty to lesser charges for the deadly fight and are awaiting sentencing, the DA said. Brothers Adam and Alex Hawrylkiewicz, both 22, pleaded guilty in August to gang assault and face up to 15 years in prison, the DA said. Sarah Kurman, 22, pleaded guilty in December 2009 to attempted gang assault and faces up to seven years in prison, the DA said.

Officers had been passing in a patrol car and saw Lundi and the brothers beating and kicking Cotto, which led to all of the arrests, the DA said. The officers found the butterfly knife, a second knife, a box cutter and two razor blades in the limousine they had used to get to the Elmhurst club, the DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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