A Ridgewood teen has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for hitting a classmate with a baseball bat in a fatal schoolyard confrontation in January, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Under a plea bargain agreement with Brown's office, Randy Rosario, 16, of 1657 Norman St. will serve three to nine years in a secure juvenile facility for the baseball bat beating death of classmate Bryan Rivera, 15, also of Ridgewood.
Brown said two families' lives were "shattered" and called the crime "senseless and violent." Rosario will be formally sentenced April 16 in Queens Supreme Court.
Rosario is headed for a relatively light sentence because he was only 15 years old at the time of the attack, said Patrick Clark, the district attorney's spokesman.
Since he was under 16 when the crime was committed, Rosario, who was prosecuted as a juvenile offender, will be sentenced as a juvenile, Clark said.
Rosario, who was about a month shy of turning 16 when he pummeled Rivera on the afternoon of Jan. 14, would have faced a "much more serious sentence" of 12 1/2 to 25 years as an adult offender for the same felony, Clark said.
Initially the eighth-grader was charged with first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon as Rivera lingered in a coma for six days before succumbing to his severe head injuries.
Rosario and Rivera both attended Intermediate School 77 in Ridgewood. The attack occurred a block from the school, only minutes after classes were dismissed for the day. The deadly clash was believed to have taken place because of an alleged dispute over $20, authorities said at the time.
School officials had no comment on the case.
In a phone interview, Rosario's lawyer, James Palumbo, said "Randy accepted responsibility for his actions" and felt very bad about the incident.
The Rosario family accepted the plea bargain offer after they weighed all their options and decided not to try their luck at a trial, Palumbo said.
The district attorney's office could have brought murder charges, but Palumbo said its policy is to work out pleas prior to indictment.
"They made an offer and we accepted," Palumbo said.
Despite being sentenced as a juvenile offender, Rosario will still have a record.
For now, Palumbo said his client is taking classes and trying to get his general equivalency diploma.
After three years, the 16-year old will become eligible for parole and could be conditionally released after six years with good behavior.
©2003 Community News Group
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