Brooklyn Landlord Gets Up to Life for Tenant Murder


566 Shepherd Avenue (Photo: Property Shark).
566 Shepherd Avenue (Photo: Property Shark).

A gun-toting East New York landlord convicted for fatally shooting one of his tenants over $100 in back rent has signed a lease of his own: a prison cell.

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Philip Estevez has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after prosecutors said he killed his tenant over unpaid rent then attacked another tenant and her children at 566 Shepherd Avenue, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Mr. Estevez, 65, was convicted last month on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

“This defendant deserves every day he will spend behind bars for his vicious attack on his tenants, killing one over unpaid rent and then terrorizing and assaulting a woman and her two young children,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson in prepared remarks.

At his sentencing today, Mr. Estevez told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Albert Tomei that the victim, Luis Martinez, had attacked him first over the $100 of rent that was due, The New York Post reported. It was not clear if that was the entire amount or just a portion of the rent.

Mr. Estevez shot Mr. Martinez, 51, twice in the head and once in the chest in March 2013 after giving the tenant a hand-written eviction notice, according to published reports.

The violent landlord then went to the second floor and attacked another tenant, Ana Rodriguez, and her pre-teen daughter, according to prosecutors. (Mr. Estevez was renting out the two floors and basement as individual single-floor units.)

The landlord struck Ms. Rodriguez and her 12-year-old daughter in the head with a pipe. Prosecutors said that her 11-year-old son broke his foot while jumping out of a window to seek help during the melee.

Mr. Martinez, who lived in a basement apartment,  and Ms. Rodriguez, who rented an apartment with her husband and children, were each allegedly behind on rent and running up their monthly utility bills, the New York Daily News reported at the time of the killing, which had irked the landlord.

At his sentencing today, Mr. Estevez said he didn’t want a confrontation when he brought up the rent shortage to Mr. Martinez, according to the Post. Instead, he said, the tenants attacked him and the shooting was in self-defense.

David Jacobs, Mr. Estevez’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.