‘He’s Still Here; My Uncle Will Be Gone Forever’

‘He’s Still Here; My Uncle Will Be Gone Forever’

Green sentenced to prison for killing Chantilly man.

    Steven Green

Four years have passed since Steven Green brutally assaulted a woman and killed her boyfriend in the parking lot of a Chantilly restaurant. After the tragedy, he was arrested and charged with murder, malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

However, he’s been free on bond since then – with the pandemic delaying his trial until this year. But judgment day finally came for Green last Friday, Sept. 1, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, when he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

“A message has to be sent to the community: If you take a life, there should be consequences,” Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Clingan told the judge before sentencing. “And the malicious-wounding victim was injured severely enough to be hospitalized.”  

The incidents occurred May 24, 2019, around 1:30 a.m., at the Chantilly Park Shopping Center in the 14500 block of Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Green, then 51, of Manassas, was at work cleaning the parking lot when he had an altercation with Mayra Osorio Cordero, who was standing outside a restaurant there.

Green used his leaf blowers to send debris towards Osorio Cordero and, after they exchanged words, he hit her in the face with one of those leaf blowers. During his criminal trial in March, she testified that Green told her, “All Hispanics are trash,” but he denied saying it.

After the attack, her boyfriend – Miguel Angel Leiva Hernandez, 30, of Chantilly – and another man came outside. When Leiva Hernandez saw Osorio Cordero bleeding profusely, he and Green began a physical struggle. There were no outdoor surveillance cameras to capture exactly what happened between the two men – and in what order. 

But at some point, Green shot Leiva Hernandez once in the chest, killing him. Police responding to the scene found the victim’s body in the parking lot. He was then taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.

Officers recovered a firearm at the scene and charged Green with the three offenses – murder, malicious wounding and using a firearm to commit a felony. But COVID-19 shut down his Circuit Court proceedings until early March of this year. During his trial, he admitted to killing the Chantilly man but said he did so in self-defense. 

Green claimed he shot Leiva Hernandez after they fought because he saw a gun on the victim’s person and was frightened for his life. But the prosecution contended Green shot the victim before the fight, as soon as he saw Leiva Hernandez’s gun – which turned out to be a BB gun.   

Green’s weapon, however, was real, and it discharged a fatal bullet. Green’s trial ended in a hung jury. But instead of opting for a new one, he instead pleaded guilty on April 28, to the lesser charge of manslaughter, as well as to malicious wounding. He returned to court last Friday for sentencing before Circuit Court Judge David Oblon.

At the outset, Clingan called Osorio Cordero to the stand to describe how her assault and her boyfriend’s death have affected her. Speaking via a Spanish-language interpreter, she said the past four years have been difficult for her and she’s had many problems.

“I used to do activities with Miguel and with my kids,” said Osorio Cordero. “Now I don’t go out much; I’m not happy anymore. My work is in American kitchens, but I’ve lost jobs because I don’t want to go out. I’ve been lonely and I feel Miguel’s loss. But I look for peace and I ask God to continue to give me strength. I’m under the care of a doctor. I’m not the same as before – everything has changed.”

Clingan also gave Oblon a victim-impact statement written by Leiva Hernandez’s brother, and he read it silently.

Public Defender Brian Goodman said Green also wrote a statement, saying he constantly remembers that night, and the weight of his actions then is “crushing” him. “He cried at his trial, describing how he felt because of what he did,” added Goodman. “And he’s accepted responsibility for his actions.”

“This court heard a two-week-plus trial with a very attentive jury which deliberated an extended amount of time [a week],” said Clingan. “It ended in a mistrial [when the jury deadlocked], and we recognized retrying this case would be difficult. Mr. Green then accepted responsibility for the act that caused the loss of a life – albeit it doesn’t bring back a person.”

While noting that Green had no criminal history until then, Clingan said, “That’s often the case in murders. It happened, it shouldn’t have happened, and things could have been done differently that night. Wrong choices were made, and we believe a two years six months sentence is appropriate.”

Goodman asked Oblon to accept the plea agreement, with a suspended period of incarceration, plus probation. “The trial was difficult on both the defendant’s and victims’ families,” he said. “Green didn’t set out that night to hurt people – although that’s what he did. 

“This happened over four years ago. Since then, he’s been out on bond, on pre-trial supervision, and he’s had no new charges. He’s been living quietly and supporting his family. He’s also been haunted by what he did – and that’s now stitched into every fiber of his being and will be with him until the day he dies. Incarceration now, after the past four years, is just punishment for punishment’s sake. We ask for a suspended sentence and probation.”

Then Green stood and apologized to both victims and their families. “Not a day goes by that I don’t regret what I did,” he said.  “And I’m grateful for the support of my family.”

Before pronouncing sentence, the judge noted that Green took over his father’s cleaning business and has worked in it daily. He also acknowledged that, with the defendant behind bars, it’ll fall to his family to keep it going.

However, said Oblon, “In May 2019, Mr. Green assaulted Mayra Osorio Cordero with a leaf blower, leaving her with a deep gash on her head and bleeding. He then shot and killed her boyfriend. The court has read many letters in Mr. Green’s support; but the crimes he committed are extremely serious. The shooting death was the result of a deliberate action he took. 

“Nothing the victim did that night justified his death, nor did anything Ms. Osorio Cordero did warrant [Green’s] malicious assault on her. Incarceration will serve as a deterrence to others in the community [warning them not to commit similar crimes] and as serious punishment for a wrong act. In this case, the plea-agreement cap seems very low, but the court will accept it.”

For the manslaughter charge, Oblon sentenced Green to 10 years in prison, suspending seven years, six months. For malicious wounding, he gave Green five years, suspending all but two years, six months. The judge then ran the sentences concurrently, leaving Green with a total of two years, six months to serve. Oblon also placed him on three years’ supervised probation, upon his release, and Clingan dropped the use of a firearm charge.  

Afterward, outside the courtroom, Clingan told the victims’ families, “We did everything we could – and, ultimately, he’ll pay a price for what he did. We got a reasonable result. I wish you and your families as best a recovery from this tragedy as possible.”

Then Leiva Hernandez’s niece, Mayra Bonilla, agreed to share some of her thoughts with the Connection. “He was my uncle, but we grew up very close in El Salvador,” she said. “My brothers and I were all close to him. He was a happy person who liked to hunt and fish, and he was a good uncle and brother.”

At the time of the incidents, Bonilla was working for a catering company in Chantilly. “Around 1:40 a.m., I saw police rushing somewhere,” she said. “And my co-workers arriving at 4 a.m. told me someone had died. I never thought it was my uncle. My phone was ringing, but I couldn’t answer it because I was busy working.

“Around 10 a.m., my family members told me. I was really sad, and we were all angry; and we saw Mayra’s injuries. Now my mom and brothers are wary when they go out, afraid something could happen. I stay at home now, too. You’re not safe outside.”

“We expected [Green] to serve more time,” continued Bonilla. “We’re not really happy about that, but what can we do? We just have to accept what the judge decided and hope we can find peace.”

When Green’s sentencing was finished and bailiffs handcuffed him to lead him out of the courtroom to jail, one of his family members burst into tears and cried loudly. Nonetheless, said Bonilla, the punishment Green received “wasn’t enough justice. At least his family still has hope that he’ll be out one day, and they’ll be able to share special moments with him, but we cannot do the same. He’s still here, but my uncle will be gone forever.”