A 17-year-old boy has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for participating in the brutal murder of a teen who was stabbed 153 times. Juan Gutierrez-Vasquez, a member of the MS-13 gang in Maryland, pleaded guilty to being involved in the 2016 killing of Christian Villagran Morales, 18, after the victim was wrongfully suspected of being a member of a rival group.

According to Fox5, Vasquez, 16 at the time of the murder, agreed to hold down Morales while his fellow gang members took turns attacking him. The group reportedly targeted the victim because he flashed the wrong hand signals.

"He did flash some gang signs trying to impress these young men who were around him and he did not realize that they were part of MS-13, and that did cause them to report back to their hierarchy," Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office spokesperson Ramon Korionoff said following the ruling on 8 February, Thursday.

The Washington Post previously reported that Morales, a landscaper, was lured to a park by a female co-conspirator, with the promise of sex. Once there, he was accosted by a group of MS-13 gang members who beat him up and stabbed him to death.

During the hearings this week, prosecutor Robert Hill pointed out that Vasquez was a part of MS-13 before he moved to the United States from El Salvador. The defence lawyer tried to plead for a lenient sentence claiming the boy was forced to take part in the gang's activities due to peer pressure.

"I'm sorry, but my life was in danger. Maybe they can forgive me. God has already forgiven me," Vasquez said in court.

Vanesa E Alvarado, the woman responsible for luring the victim to the scene of the crime was also sentenced to 40 years in prison. During the trial, prosecutors mentioned that the 20-year-old woman laughed and shouted encouragement while Morales was being stabbed.

"Even after the murder," Assistant State's Attorney Robert Hill wrote in court records, "Ms Alvarado showed so little regard for the life of her victim that she came back to the crime scene to show her friends the gang's handiwork."