April 8, 2019 6:05 pm
The alleged mastermind was convicted Monday of the murder and kidnapping of Menachem Stark Z”L, finally concluding trials that, after more than 5 years, has resulted in guilty verdicts or pleas from all four men believed to have been involved in the horrific crime.
Erskin Felix, 40, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn was convicted of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. 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 charred remains were 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.”
Erskin Felix managed construction sites owned by Stark, a real-estate developer. The other co-conspirators worked as carpenters on those construction sites. According to prosecutors, Erskin, claiming Stark owed him money, plotted to abduct Stark and hold 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 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, the evidence showed. 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 and Irvine Henry testified against Erskin Felix, in the hopes of receiving reduced sentences. Both portrayed Erskin as the mastermind of the kidnapping scheme.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Howard Jackson said: “When you look at the series of mistakes” that Erskin and his co-conspirators made, “there are no masterminds,” but “there was one person directing and running the entire operation from the beginning to the end.”
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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