LOCKPORT, NY - The mother of the teenage boy who has been on trial in connection to that massive industrial fire in Lockport last summer, is speaking out only to 2 On Your Side.
That fire killed the defendant's best friend, 14-year-old Joseph Phillips. The mother of the defendant, has been by her son's side through the case. Throughout this case, 2 On Your Side has not named the defendant because of his age, in only being 14 years old.
We will not name his mother either, as she wants her name and identity protected, so as to protect herself and her family.
She sat down with 2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval in her first media interview.
"We are actually devastated right now, we're living a nightmare. My son has been very depressed and he's very remorseful over what happened," she said.
REPORTER: What was your first reaction when you learned that he was in that building, he was in High Tread International that day?
"I was very scared panicked, very worried," she said.
REPORTER: Before all this, what kind of kid is he?
"He's funny, he's loving, he's always helping us out around the house with his younger brother and sister," she said.
Her son was with Phillips, his best friend. When the flames got out of control, her son ran out – she says to go get help – Phillips stayed behind and died inside.
"We were all very sad, he was a very important person to our family," the teen's mom said.
Among the accusations her son faced were charges of criminally negligent homicide, arson and criminal trespass. The defendant got a voicemail from Phillips, while the plant was burning, prosecutors say, and he did not immediately respond to it.
"We were very surprised by that charge because my son in no way was responsible for Joe's death," she said.
She says within minutes her son reported the voicemail to a parent, then to his mom, who informed Lockport police. Her son has pleaded guilty to arson and burglary.
REPORTER: Why accept this plea deal?
"My son has always said from the beginning what he had done and I feel that the charge that he pled guilty to was appropriate," she said.
REPORTER: Has there been anything from the trial or anything that's been said that you don't agree with that you think needs to be corrected?
"Yes there's been several things, one is that my son did not start this fire, he was not the fire starter, that when my son left the building he left to get help, he didn't run and hide," she said.
REPORTER: What are you hoping is the future for him?
"I hope that with the treatment he's getting that he can move on with his life," she said.
Her son is getting help for depression. The case was expected to resume Tuesday for a possible sentencing, but that was adjourned because of some technical issues with the probation department. So, this case will resume a week from now. The mother hopes that whatever happens, that her son is able to continue treatment and then hopefully, at some point, return back to school.
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