Homicide victim was related to man in accused murder plot

New London — The 36-year-old man who was fatally stabbed last week was the brother-in-law of Antonio "Wilson" Peña, who is awaiting trial for allegedly masterminding a murder-for-hire plot.

Javier Reyes was stabbed multiple times at an apartment at 187 Huntington St. on Wednesday night. The address where the homicide occurred, Apt. D14, is the same given to police last year by Peña, who is awaiting trial on a charge that he orchestrated a murder-for-hire plot against an acquaintance, Oscar "Tato" Valentin, with whom he once dealt drugs.

Reyes was the brother of Peña's wife, according to Peña's attorney, William Gerace.

"Antonio finds it appalling," Gerace said of Reyes' death.

Police have not confirmed whether the two incidents are connected. Deputy Chief Peter Reichard, the department spokesman, could not be reached for comment Monday. Capt. Steve Crowley, commander of detectives, said he could not comment on the investigation.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner announced Monday that Reyes' death has been ruled a homicide.

Police said they responded to the area around 10:34 p.m. Wednesday and found Reyes suffering from serious injuries to his abdomen. A source said he was stabbed at least six times.

Reyes was initially taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and then flown to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he died of his injuries at 2 a.m. Thursday.

Peña, who has been held in lieu of $2 million bond on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, was in Superior Court Monday for a routine appearance. Judge Susan B. Handy continued the case until Oct. 9, saying that Peña's attorney, who only recently took on the case, needs to get up to speed.

"In light of some recent circumstances, I want some additional discussions to be taking place," the judge said.

According to court documents, Peña planned to pay $5,000 to Gerardo Carrillo, 26, of 64 Fawn Hill Drive, Westbrook, and $10,000 to Elmer A. Melendez, 28, of 208 Crystal Ave. The police pulled over the informant, Carrillo and Melendez after the informant and Carrillo picked up Melendez at his apartment.

Peña, who was in a drug rehabilitation program, was arrested later that day.

i.larraneta@theday.com

k.florin@theday.com

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