By ARTHUR CLEVELAND
AMSTERDAM - Montgomery County District Attorney James "Jed" Conboy said today an additional charge may be filed against Matt Phelps, the 15-year-old town of Florida resident accused of shooting and killing two boys July 9.
Meanwhile, Bridget Masesie, mother of 13-year-old victim Jonathan DeJesus, fought back tears Monday as she described her son as a "very happy, loving kid."
"He had a smile that could make anyone else smile, no matter how mad they were," Masesie said. "He was funny, very genuine. A loving kid."
Conboy said he may seek an additional charge of second-degree murder against Phelps based on what the investigation reveals.
Phelps and Anthony Brasmiester, 16, already have been charged with one count each of second-degree murder.
DeJesus and Paul Damphier, 16, were reported missing July 9. Amsterdam police initially treated the boys as possible runaways. On July 19, their bodies were found in a field not far from Snooks Corners Road in Florida.
Both boys were killed by what police say were gunshot wounds to the torso. Identification was made via dental records.
The case is being investigated by the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Troopers say Phelps is the primary suspect in the case and they think he might be the shooter.
Conboy says he will prosecute Phelps as an adult.
Phelps was supposed to be in the Florida Town Court for a preliminary hearing today, but it was postponed. Brasmiester is due in Town Court for a preliminary hearing Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Both Masesie and DeJesus' father, Nector DeJesus, described their son as very athletic. Masesie said he would often ride his bike with his friends, and he always excelled in sports, loving football.
According to Masesie, DeJesus and Damphier were very close.
"My son was very devoted to his friends," Masesie said, saying he often would defend friends and family.
"The only trouble he ever really got into was if he was ever defending one of his friends or family members," Masesie said. "He was not a troublemaker."
Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo was the principal at the R.J. McNulty Academy for International Studies and Literacy in 2004, when Damphier entered the school. Damphier entered the school in the second grade, according to Perillo. "Paul always had a smile on his face. He always loved to be in school," Perillo said of Damphier in elementary school. "You never saw him without a smile, and he loved his teachers."
Perillo said he and several other school officials are brainstorming ideas on how to reach out to the family and help. He said he wants to give the family time and an opportunity to get through the grieving process.
Sandra Damphier, Paul Damphier's mother, wasn't available for comment.
Visiting hours for DeJesus are planned to take place Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Betz, Rossi & Bellinger Family Funeral Home, 171 Guy Park Ave., Amsterdam. Family and friends are invited to attend. Donations to a children's fund in DeJesus' name can be made to Masesie.
Arthur Cleveland is the Montgomery County Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.