Two friends thought they were playing with an unloaded gun at a Silver Terrace home earlier this month when one of them fired a shot into the back of the other’s head, killing him, the shooter’s attorney said Wednesday.
The 15-year-old boy accused in the April 9 killing of Andy Zeng, 16, appeared in juvenile court Wednesday morning but once again postponed entering a plea to murder on the advice of his new attorney, Tony Tamburello, who said he is still reviewing evidence in the case.
Tamburello said following the brief hearing that the initial police reports “indicate that there was no malice or premeditation involved.”
“It was more akin with an event that happened with what was thought to be an unloaded gun,” he said.
The teen suspect, who The Examiner is not naming because he is a minor, shot Zeng with a .22-caliber handgun when they were alone at the unnamed boy’s home at 2138 Quesada Ave., according to police and prosecutors. He then allegedly phoned other friends to help dispose of Zeng’s body.
Upstairs neighbors called police when they smelled gas that the teens allegedly poured on the floor in a failed attempt to burn the body.
Tamburello said the shooting was either a complete accident or “a careless mistake,” but not murder.
“He is extremely sorry and expresses a great deal of remorse,” said Tamburello of his client. “Andy was his good friend.”
A murder conviction in juvenile court could result in the boy being held until age 25.
Tamburello also cited the police reports as saying that the gun allegedly used in the killing belonged to 18-year-old Jimmy Lei, who is being charged in adult court as an accessory to murder after the fact. He also faces counts of attempted arson and use of an incendiary device, as does the 15-year-old suspect.
Lei’s attorney Sam Lasser noted that the allegations against his client were solely based on the 15-year-old’s statements to police. He said prosecutors may be “picking and choosing” what to believe of the boy’s statements.
Lei allegedly responded to the home with latex gloves and canisters filled with gas, and suggested cutting Zeng’s body in half with a knife or breaking his legs, in order to make it easier to dispose of, prosecutors said. He has pleaded not guilty.
Both suspects return to court next month. A funeral for Zeng is being held on Saturday.