The two teenagers accused of killing two other teens last summer pleaded not guilty at their respective arraignments today.
Anthony Brasmeister, 16, and Matt Phelps, 15, appeared in Montgomery County Court to be arraigned on two counts each of second-degree murder. The two are accused of shooting Amsterdam teens Paul Damphier, 16, and Jonathan DeJesus, 13, in a soybean field in July.
Acting County Court Judge Polly Hoye explained the charges to Brasmiester and Phelps, advising them one at a time of their rights. She then set a tentative trial schedule.
The defense has until Feb. 19 to make its motions, Montgomery County District Attorney James "Jed" Conboy will have the following two weeks to respond, and a pre-trial hearing will be held March 15. Hoye suggested lawyers block out the two weeks starting June 17 for the actual trial.
It was all handled in a matter of minutes, but the arraignment was an emotional day for the victims’ families. Outside the courthouse, the mood was more anger than sorrow.
“We’re sure they did it; now, we just want justice,” said Deborah Tiano, DeJesus’ grandmother, “We’ll fight for it for the rest of our lives.”
Damphier’s aunt Kathleen Damphier, stood shivering in the parking lot after the arraignments.
“Now, it’s just waiting,” she said, also confident of the boys’ guilt.
When asked what ruling she’d like to see, “life” was her vehement response.
“The death sentence would be an easy way out for these two,” she said. “I want them to think about what they did every day and suffer.”
The attorneys representing Phelps and Brasmeister, Robert Abdella and Joseph McCoy, respectively, both declined comment Thursday.