Teens plead not guilty in murder case

FONDA – Two teenagers charged in the shooting deaths of two other teenagers in a field in the town of Florida pleaded not guilty to murder today.

Matthew Phelps, 15, of Snooks Corners Road, town of Florida, and Anthony Brasmeister, 16, of Belfance Road, Amsterdam, are accused of killing Amsterdam residents Jonathan DeJesus, 13, and Paul Damphier, 16, in July.

The two suspects pleaded not guilty to two counts each of second-degree murder and two counts each of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Appearing separately, the two were silent during their respective arraignments other than to give permission to have their attorneys speak for them. Joseph McCoy represents Brasmeister and Bob Abdella represents Phelps.

Montgomery County District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy said both teens will be tried as adults. The two will be tried together, Conboy said.

Both entered the courtroom handcuffed. Phelps wore a bulletproof vest.

“We just want justice. We are sure they did it and we just want justice,” Deborah Tiano, grandmother of Jonathan DeJesus, said after the proceeding. “We will fight for them for the rest of our lives.”

Linda Damphier, grandmother of Damphier, said after the arraignments, “It’s just so hard to believe.”

Lynn Martin, Damphier’s aunt, said, “We just want justice for Paul and Jonathan.”

Fulton County Court Judge Polly A. Hoye presided at the arraignments.

According to Hoye, motions by the defense attorneys would need to be filed by Feb. 19 and the district attorney would have to respond by March 5.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for March 15 and the trial is scheduled to begin June 17.

Conboy said Brasmeister, who faces 25 years to life in state prison if convicted at trial, is incarcerated at the Montgomery County Jail.

Phelps, who faces nine years to life in state prison if convicted at trial, is incarcerated in a state juvenile detention facility in Albany, Conboy said.

According to police, Phelps and Brasmeister killed DeJesus and Damphier in a field off Snooks Corners Road in the town of Florida on July 9 near the property of Phelps’ grandparents. According to police, Phelps pulled the trigger.

The victims were shot in the torso and their bodies were found July 19, authorities said.

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