Slain teen's mom seeks justice

Posted: February 14, 2014

YESTERDAY MORNING was a mixed bag of emotions for Bernadette Lamberto.

She sat in a courtroom in the Criminal Justice Center, surrounded by friends and family, as the teen who she says accidentally killed her son faced a judge. A teen whom she forgives, and for whom she holds no malice.

"It doesn't matter if people don't understand my mourning process," she said yesterday. "This is how I'm going to get through this, and that's all that matters."

Hector Echevarria, 18, waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and now faces a formal arraignment March 5 on charges of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and related offenses in the death of William Hopkins, his best friend, on Jan. 21.

Echevarria told the Daily News that he was showing Hopkins a shotgun belonging to his brother when it accidentally discharged, hitting Hopkins once in the chest. Police said Hopkins was pronounced dead not long after the shooting.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax, who's handling the case, said the murder charge would likely be dropped. That plan, however, hinges on Echevarria pleading guilty to the involuntary-manslaughter charge.

Whatever happens, Lamberto hopes that her son's lifelong friend will answer for what he did.

"I still love Hec, still forgive him, but something needs to happen," she said. "At the end of the day, my son is still dead."

She said she's resolute in her belief that Echevarria bore her son no ill will, that what happened that day in his house was a tragic mishap.

But, she said, a lesson still has to be taught.

"Probation wouldn't be enough; I think he needs to do some time," she said. "It's wouldn't be fair for my son's life to be over and [Echevarria] to be out on the street like nothing happened."

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