Long Island man facing manslaughter charge for fatally stabbing thief

A Long Island man is arrested for fatally stabbing a man he caught trying to rob him. But police are not treating it as a case of self-defense and have charged 28-year-old Jacob Alvarenga Mejia with manslaughter. 

Mejia of Bellerose Village faces manslaughter and assault charges Friday for what Nassau County police say he did at 1:30 the morning of May 13.

Police say when Mejia realized three men were trying to steal the tires and rims of his car parked near his home on Jericho Turnpike, he grabbed a large kitchen knife.

They saw him coming and ran to their car.

Mejia caught the last one getting in, Luis Pena, 22, and stabbed him multiple times in the back, killing him.

Mejia’s arrest is again stirring the debate over self-defense.

Is it justified? Or is this vigilante-style justice a step too far?

That’s the question residents are asking after Daniel Penny was charged with manslaughter for putting Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold this month. 

Neely wasn’t physical, but his shouting on the subway scared passengers, and according to his lawyer, Penny was only looking out for their safety.

Then Jose Alba was charged with the second-degree murder of Austin Simon in a Manhattan bodega last summer. 

Simon had pushed Alba, who was working behind the counter, prompting Alba to pick up a knife and stab him five times.

But in Alba’s case, a judge dismissed the murder charge, in the name of self-defense.

Residents speak out

Police don’t believe that was the case for Mejia, who they say was already angry after his catalytic converter was stolen two months prior. And residents agree.

"Got to find out more facts before I take out a knife and stab somebody," said one Bellerose Village resident.

"His life wasn’t at risk, so I don’t understand why he would have to take another person’s, life, over something that can be replaced," says another.

The law in Nassau County allows you to defend your property. You can use physical force to defend your property to stop what is happening. But authorities say you cannot take it to the next level and use deadly physical force.

For Mejia, we’ll have to wait and see what happens in court.