National News

Killer Sentenced to Maximum Term for Elevator Stabbing Death of 6-Year-Old

Posted May 22, 2018 7:58 p.m. EDT
Updated May 22, 2018 8:00 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — Saying that he wanted to protect “our children” from a similar fate, a judge on Tuesday issued the maximum sentence to a man convicted of stabbing a young boy to death and leaving his friend fighting for life in a Brooklyn public housing elevator.

The emotional hearing and the sentence of 50 years to life in prison brought an end to the four-year prosecution of the defendant, Daniel St. Hubert, for a seemingly senseless crime that shocked New York City from the moment it occurred on a sunny Sunday afternoon in June 2014.

“This case is a tragedy — a case of unspeakable horror,” Justice Vincent Del Giudice said in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn. “A child was butchered. Another child was grievously injured, her innocence savagely taken away from her.”

After trying to console the victims’ families, Del Giudice admitted that the only thing that he could do to address their pain was to send St. Hubert to prison for as long as he could, ensuring he would “never again hurt more of our children.”

After a two-week trial, St. Hubert, 31, was found guilty last month of killing Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, and of nearly killing Mikayla Capers, then 7, in a prolonged and unprovoked attack in an elevator of the Boulevard Houses in East New York. Using testimony from police detectives, medical experts, grieving relatives and Mikayla — who is now 11 — prosecutors presented the jury with the grisly story. St. Hubert had followed the children from the housing project’s playground into the elevator, where he stabbed them almost 30 times with a steak knife as they were headed upstairs to fetch Icees.

In her turn on the witness stand, Mikayla called St. Hubert “the bad man,” and at his sentencing she used the same phrase while asking Del Giudice to send him to prison for the rest of his life. Mikayla said that even now she looks at her body and sees 16 stab wounds. But, she added, she is slowly starting to heal.

“I will not let this horrible thing define who I am,” she said, adding, “I believe I will rise and that my best friend, P.J., will rest in peace.”

Her words to the judge followed tearful statements by members of her family and P.J.'s relatives. In a pained address, P.J.'s godmother, Annabelle Diaz-Alston, described how she would never again touch her godson or play with him or hear his voice on a Saturday morning.

“I cannot fix my lips to call you a man or even a person for that matter,” she told St. Hubert. “I see you as a devil.”

“You killed everything inside of me,” Alston-Diaz added. “My life ain’t right.”

In the middle of her speech, a woman sitting behind her suddenly called out, “I hope you rot in hell!” Court security officers escorted her from the room.

In his own statement to the judge, a prosecutor, Patrick O’Connor, said that the stabbings of P.J. and Mikayla were offenses “as horrendous as the human mind is capable of conceiving,” but were not the only crimes that St. Hubert had committed.

In the early 2000s, O’Connor said, the police were called to St. Hubert’s mother’s home at least 11 times after he had verbally abused his mother, spat in his sister’s face and violently hurled objects through the house. In 2009, St. Hubert was sent to prison for trying to kill his mother by wrapping an electrical cord around her neck. He was released just days before he attacked P.J. and Mikayla. Punishment for the attempted murder was included in his sentence Tuesday.

When St. Hubert addressed the judge, he proclaimed his innocence in an all-but-incoherent tirade that rambled manically from his adolescent love of football to his dream of being a Hollywood movie star to the hazings and beatings that he said he had suffered in prison.

“There’s a lot of things that happened in my life that says I don’t belong in this situation,” he said, standing in the well of the court with his arms pinned behind him and held in place by handcuffs. “I would never kill two kids.”

Claiming he was framed, St. Hubert eventually added: “All I’m saying, is I’m a good man and bad things are happening to me.”