Award-winning journalist Dometi Pongo is giving viewers a closer look at some of the most harrowing recent true crime stories that have affected young people with MTV’s new show, True Life Crime. The MTV News host will investigate cases that shocked the nation in the eight-episode docuseries, like the tragic murder of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz in New York City on June 20, 2018. The teen’s slaying quickly garnered national attention with the help of social media, including the hashtag #JusticeForJunior. Dometi exclusively chatted with In Touch about his thoughts on the power of social media and the role it plays in these types of cases.

“We just did a story about this on my digital show, Need to Know, that airs on MTV News’ Twitter and Instagram. And in it, I was saying that social media is so powerful because if not for social media, we may not have known about these cases or I may not have known and been able to source the questions that people had,” Dometi exclusively tells In Touch. “So in the Junior case, social media allowed us to see what happened to Junior, allowed us to see, you know, to feel it because sometimes you need to see it just to feel that how gruesome some of these things really are and lets us know how important it is. It gives the community a voice, gives a voice to people who don’t have the resources to talk to the press.”

Guzman-Feliz’s brutal murder was a case of mistaken identity. In October 2019, five men who were allegedly members of the Dominican Trinitarios street gang were found guilty of murder and gang assault in relation to the crime and were sentenced to life in prison.  The teen’s murder was captured in graphic surveillance video footage from the bodega in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx, where the incident took place. Due to the harrowing nature of the video, which later went viral on social media, it sparked a national outrage — in turn, it created a movement as well. But Dometi is also aware that there is a dark side to the power that social media wields.

“The downside of social media is that sometimes cyberbullying happens as a result of these cases,” he explained. “You know, you have friends of the person who is deceased, still being badgered with questions. You have people who have been accused of things that may not have done anything that. In the Junior case, one of Junior’s friends, one of the last people he sees before he dies, has to skip town, has to leave because he’s being accused of all types of craziness in the Bronx. And that’s the downside of social media. When the death threats come through and when people’s lives become endangered.”

Viewers will be able to learn more about the journey to #JusticeForJunior on True Life Crime which airs on MTV Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

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