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Hollis teen does not face prison after shooting bro

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A Hollis teen who said he accidentally shot and killed his brother while they were playing with a gun they found has been determined to be a youthful offender and will not face jail time in the shooting, the Queens district attorney said.

Romando Raphael, 16, acknowledged his role in the death of his brother Richard, 15, who died in the courtyard of their father's apartment building at 91-20 191st St. in Hollis June 29, said Queens DA Richard Brown.

He was scheduled to be sentenced later this month to five years' probation and will be required to receive psychiatric counseling and vocational training, Brown said.

"The youth has admitted that he was responsible for his younger brother's death," Brown said. "The incident was both sad and tragic because a young man's life was ended by gunfire and his older brother's life has been forever scarred by trauma, remorse and regret."

Richard, who lived in the Bronx with his mother, was visiting his brother at their father's apartment when the two found a 9mm handgun in the bushes near the building. The two brought it into the third-floor apartment about 11 p.m. Romando Raphael tried to remove the ammunition clip, but when he tried to clear the round in the chamber, another bullet took its place, police said.

Thinking the weapon was empty, Romando pointed the gun at Richard and pulled the trigger, according to the criminal complaint.

Richard was hit in the chest, and Romando ran from the apartment and started pounding on neighboring doors in search of help, police said. When no one came to his aid, Romando grabbed his brother and began dragging him outside to the courtyard, neighbors said.

"I heard loud thumps and a person running down the stairs," Noonmatti Damri, a neighbor, said the day after the shooting. "Someone started banging on my door, but I don't open my door for anybody."

Romando Raphael was arrested after the accidental shooting and charged with manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a criminal complaint from the district attorney's office.

At an Aug. 5 hearing in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens, Justice Dorothy Chin Brandt found Romando Raphael to be eligible for youthful offender status, meaning his record will be sealed, Brown said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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