Fishmonger Accused In Fatal Stabbing Gets Murder Charges Dropped

Prosecutors have dropped charges against a Harlem fishmonger accused of stabbing a man to death in a fight that resulted from a stolen shrimp.

Authorities say that a man was attacking Junior Aquino Hernandez’s colleague Francisco Morales at the Fish Express Fish Market when Hernandez jumped in his defense. In the process, the man, identified as 25-year-old Malik Burrell, sustained fatal wounds.

His brother, 29-year-old Robert “Bobby” Burrell, also reportedly got injured.

However, on Thursday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Hernandez will not be charged with murder until they conduct a full investigation.

“At the time we are not prepared to go forward with the charges related to the death of Malik pending a full investigation,” said Assistant District Attorney Mireille Dee.

At first, Hernandez was charged with murder, weapons possession, and assault. However, the 34-year-old said, “he didn’t mean to hurt them.” The father of four, who had no criminal record, argued self-defense.

As reported by the New York Post, Robert had come into the fish store to steal. He allegedly punched someone in the store and fled. However, he later came back with Malik, and together, they got into a fight with the fishmongers after they went to the area accessible only to employees.

Hernandez was reportedly trying to break up the fight, but his efforts were not successful as Morales got his teeth knocked out, and another employee had a chair thrown at them.

At some point, Hernandez allegedly took a fish knife and stabbed Robert and Malik in defense of his coworker. Robert and Malik were taken to the hospital, but Malik did not survive his injuries. Robert managed to get away with a punctured lung amid other wounds.

The families of the two sides have spoken in defense of their own side. Despite the story that reportedly led to the killing, the deceased’s father maintained his son’s innocence and is demanding justice.

“My sons were good kids, they ain’t get in no trouble, they not no hard criminals,” he said. “I can’t believe my boy was killed over some shrimps. They killed my baby on his birthday.”

On the other hand, Hernandez’s wife, Estephanie Reyes, argued that he acted out of self-defense.

The manager of the establishment the two brothers allegedly tried to rob, Manuel Perez, also pleaded self-defense in support of his subordinate. “It is not fair that someone be charged with serious crimes for defending themselves and their workplace against robbery,” he stated.

Perez added that Hernandez only stepped in with the knife when the fight got really bad, and the brothers had injured an employee and broke the door.