Teens headed to prison

FONDA – Family members of two teenagers slain last July told the two murder defendants Thursday of the grief and sadness they’ve caused before the two were sentenced to prison.

“People tell me how it would get better, but time will not heal my wounds,” Nicole Damphier, sister of murder victim Paul Damphier, said at the sentencing.

Matthew Phelps, 16, of Snooks Corners Road, town of Florida, was sentenced to 15 years to life, and Anthony Brasmeister, 17, of Belfance Road, Amsterdam, was sentenced to 25 years to life.

The two killed Amsterdam residents Jonathan DeJesus, 13, and Paul Damphier, 16, authorities said. The victims were shot in a field in the town of Florida.

Phelps and Brasmeister pleaded guilty in April to two counts of second-degree murder.

The sentencings of the two differed because they were based on plea arrangements, said Montgomery County District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy. In addition, he said, Phelps was 15 years old at the time of the crime and Brasmeister was 16.

Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye, presiding over the sentencing, said, “It goes without saying, this was a disturbing case.”

Conboy called the crime a premeditated “double execution.”

According to Conboy, authorities had evidence showing Brasmeister and Phelps had discussed online how to get ammunition.

“This was an act that culminated after weeks of planning,” said Conboy, who has served in the criminal justice system for 30 years.

“In that 30 years, I cannot recall a more senseless act,” Conboy said.

He said that while society has a minimum age to vote or drink, “there is no minimum age for evil.”

Brasmeister and Phelps declined to speak before they were sentenced. Both attorneys, Joseph McCoy for Brasmeister and Bob Abdella for Phelps, said the defendants felt guilty and took responsibility for their actions.

Police arrested Phelps and Brasmeister a week after the murders. The bodies of the victims were found in a soybean field near Snooks Corners Road in the town of Florida. The bodies were dismembered, according to the victims’ families. Dental records were used by police to identify the bodies.

Bridget Masesie, mother of DeJesus, said losing her son has made her lose part of herself.

“From the moment Jon was born, he was my everything. He was my little hero,” Masesie said.

Masesie said the bodies were found after the defendants showed the bodies to a friend, who reported the killings.

At the sentencing, Nicole Damphier set a photo of her brother on the stand and spoke about the type of person he was. She described him as a loving, friendly boy. His death, she said, broke her heart.

Nicole Damphier and her mother, Sandra Damphier, said Paul was a friend of Brasmeister.

“My brother trusted him and he never saw it coming,” Nicole Damphier said.

Sandra Damphier said she had dropped off both victims at Brasmeister’s home but never heard back from them. After frantic phone calls and searching, she said, the Amsterdam Police Department told her the two were runaways. It wasn’t until July 19 she learned their fate.

“It was a crime of Satan,” Sandra Damphier said.

“I have spells of uncontrollable crying,” she said.

She said she never would see her son graduate from school, marry or be a father. She described her son as lovable and a true friend.

She also said Amsterdam police should be held accountable, claiming they did not do enough to find the boys.

Laura Lewis, aunt of DeJesus, said, “[Jonathan was] one of the sweetest kids I ever met.”

Lewis said she hoped the defendants would stand before God before being sent to hell for their crime.

“My nephew was a child, not a thug or a gangster. You are not a tough guy, you are a coward,” Lewis said.

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