More than 5 years after the murder and kidnapping of Williamsburg landlord Menachem Stark Z”L, the alleged mastermind of the horrific crime has been convicted. All three co-conspirators have already received guilty verdicts or pleas.
Erskin Felix, 40, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn was convicted Monday of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Jurors acquitted him on charges of conspiracy and kidnapping with intent to collect ransom. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on May 1, 2019.
Felix — along with brother Kendall Felix, cousin Kendel Felix and cousin Irvine Henry — were charged in connection with the January 2014 kidnapping and death of Stark as he left his office in Williamsburg. The 39-year-old’s badly burned body was later found in the dumpster of a gas station in Great Neck, Long Island.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “With today’s verdict this defendant has been brought to justice for the murder of Menachem Stark, which devastated his wife and seven children. This was a cold-blooded kidnapping that resulted in the death of a businessman and member of the Williamsburg community. This verdict holds the defendant accountable for his role in this tragic and senseless death.”
According to the investigation, Felix had worked for Stark. He planned to extort money from Stark and enlisted his relatives, who did construction work for Stark, to assist him in kidnapping the millionaire and holding him for ransom.
Erskin and Kendel kidnapped Stark outside his Williamsburg office during a night-time blizzard on January 2, 2014.
After the victim fought unsuccessfully to escape, they forced him into a Dodge minivan, bound his arms and legs with duct tape, taped his mouth and placed a ski mask over his head. Kendel drove away while Erskin restrained Stark in the back of the van by sitting on his chest, according to testimony. Erskin and Kendel picked up defendant Kendall Felix (Erskin’s brother) and they drove to the home of Irvine Henry (another cousin), the evidence showed.
Upon arrival, they discovered that the victim was dead due to Erskin’s actions in trying to subdue him, according to the evidence. The 230-lb man had allegedly sat on Stark. The defendants attempted to return to the kidnapping scene to retrieve the victim’s Lexus SUV, but saw police on the scene.
Erskin then directed Kendel and Kendall to drive to Long Island to dispose of the body. They drove to Nassau County, threw the body in a dumpster and set it on fire.
Approximately 17 hours later, a Nassau County police officer found the partially burned body in a garbage dumpster behind a gas station in Great Neck, Long Island. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was asphyxia by compression of the neck and chest.
A jury convicted Kendel Felix of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder in September 2016. He is awaiting sentencing.
Kendall Felix pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy and first-degree hindering prosecution last month and was sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison over the objection of the prosecution.
Irvine Henry pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and attempted tampering with physical evidence in February 2017. He is awaiting sentencing.
Kendel Felix testified against his cousin Erskin and portrayed him as the mastermind of the scheme. Erskin’s defense attorney argued that Kendel was merely aiming for a reduced sentence.
The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective Christopher Scarry of the 90th Precinct Detective Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Seamus Doherty. Detective Herbert Martin and other members of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad assisted in the investigation, under the supervision of Lieutenant John Tennant.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson, Deputy Chief of the Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, a Bureau Chief in the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.
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