MARCH 3, 2006

Bronx 13-Year-Old Is Held and 2nd Is Sought in Killing

By KAREEM FAHIM and MATTHEW SWEENEY

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested in the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old who was attacked on Saturday night as he returned to his Bronx home after walking a friend to a bus stop, the police said.

The charges against the 13-year-old had not been determined yesterday, but he will be tried as a juvenile, the authorities said. He appeared yesterday in Bronx Family Court, where the judge ordered that he be held in juvenile detention.

Law enforcement officials said that the 13-year-old boy and another boy, also 13, who has not yet been arrested, attacked the 15-year-old, Edwin Owusu-Hammond, to steal his cellphone. Officials believe that the second 13-year-old stabbed Edwin with a kitchen knife during a scuffle over the phone.

It was not immediately clear why the second 13-year-old had not yet been arrested. But law enforcement officials said that investigators knew where he was staying and that they expected him to be charged with murder and tried as an adult.

Edwin's mother, Patricia Hammond-Church, brought Edwin to the Bronx from Ghana in October after the boy failed to win admission to a school in Accra, Ghana's capital. Adelina Obeng, Edwin's aunt, said the family did not feel sorry that they had brought the boy to New York. "We just regret that we lost him," she said.

Details emerged yesterday about the lives of the boys suspected in the attack. Law enforcement officials said they were troubled teenagers who had sealed arrest records and lived within a few blocks of Edwin's apartment in Morris Heights.

The family of the 13-year-old in custody said that they learned of his part in the attack on Sunday night as they all sat in front of the television.

The family was watching the evening news when a report came on describing Edwin's killing. The boy's eyes widened, his sister recalled. "He looked shocked; he looked scared," she said. And then he started talking, his sister said, giving his version of the encounter.

He said that while the family prepared for her baby shower, he felt in the way and decided to leave the apartment, and ran into the other 13-year-old, the sister said.

As the two boys walked together, they spotted Edwin talking on his cellphone, and the other boy said, "Yo, let's get him for his phone," she quoted her brother as saying.

"He didn't want to say no because the kid is more gangster," she said. "He's been through more than my brother." What happened next is still unclear, but investigators said that after the boys demanded the phone from Edwin, a scuffle broke out, and the 13-year-old boy who has not been arrested stabbed him three times, in his chest, abdomen and wrist.

Edwin, badly wounded, made his way back to his apartment building, and collapsed at the threshold of his mother's apartment.

The sister of the boy in custody said her brother "never thought the kid was going to stab" Edwin.

She added, "He just thought the kid was going to scare him with a knife." The woman said that her brother, who attends Middle School 232 in the Bronx, had been undergoing counseling since a recent fight. "He's a sweetheart," she said. The other 13-year-old, she added, "is another story."

The mother of the 13-year-old suspected of stabbing Edwin answered the door yesterday afternoon in her bathrobe, saying her son was in a juvenile facility because of another matter. "My son is a good boy," she said, "It's only when he's outside: he wants to go to parties, he doesn't want to listen to my curfew," she said, adding that she required him to be at home by 9 p.m.

When asked about the allegations against her son, she began to cry and said, "I don't want my son in no more trouble."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company