The Brooklyn landlord who shot one of his tenants to death—and threatened another and her two small children—over unpaid rent in March 2013 has been sentenced to 15 years to life. But he still claims the murder was in self-defense.
Phillip Estevez, 63, was renting out rooms in his single-family at 566 Essex Street in East New York when the fatal attack took place. On March 10th, he got into an altercation with his tenant Luis Martinez, 51, during an attempt to collect $100 in unpaid rent. According to the NY Post, Martinez had been trying to defend his sister, Anna Rodriguez, who was living in the building's second floor apartment, and was overdue on her rent. Estevez beat Rodriguez, who was able to pull away and escape upstairs, prompting Estevez to turn on Martinez.
According to court documents, Estevez shot Martinez three times, twice in the head and once in the chest, killing him.
Estevez then went upstairs to confront Rodriguez, who was inside her apartment with an 11-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. According to the Brooklyn DA, Estevez beat both mother and daughter in the head with a pipe. Rodriguez's son jumped out of the second-story window to get help, and broke his ankle in the fall. Both children managed to escape, and ran to the 75th precinct station house.
In a statement issued yesterday, DA Ken Thompson said, "This defendant deserves every day he will spend behind bars for his vicious attack on his tenants."
Speaking at his sentencing yesterday, Estevez told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Albert Tomei that he didn't instigate the violence. “They attacked me. I was only defending myself,” he said.