Teen pleads guilty to killing best friend

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER An emotional Hector Echevarria sits next to Bernadette Lamberto in Lamberto's home in February. Echevarria accidentally shot the woman's son, William Hopkins, in January.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER An emotional Hector Echevarria sits next to Bernadette Lamberto in Lamberto's home in February. Echevarria accidentally shot the woman's son, William Hopkins, in January.
Posted: April 25, 2014

"GOOD AND BAD" - that's how Bernadette Lamberto describes how she feels.

"Good" in the sense that she is finally getting justice for the death of her son, but "bad" because his killer, her son's best friend, is likely to spend a few years behind bars.

"I still forgive him, and there will always be a place in my heart for him," Lamberto said. "But this is for my son: You picked up the gun, you turned around and you shot him."

Hector Echevarria, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter and a weapons violation in the death of William Hopkins, 19, court records show. A murder charge was dropped as part of Echevarria's plea.

In February, Echevarria poured his heart out to the Daily News about the fatal shooting, to which he admitted, saying it had been an accident. According to the teen, Hopkins, his lifelong pal, was hit in the chest Jan. 21 by a shotgun blast while Echevarria was showing off the gun, owned by his brother.

Hopkins, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting inside the Echevarria family's home, on Mascher Street near Tabor Road in Olney, shortly after officers arrived, police said.

Echevarria remains free on bail and faces a formal sentencing for the charges June 25, court records show.

He could face up to 10 years in prison, a source familiar with the case said.

That possibility caused tempers to flare during Wednesday's proceedings, according to Lamberto. She said Echevarria's family is upset and refuses to discuss the matter with her.

"It sucks that two lives are ruined by this, but they will never know how I feel," she said. "I am upset that Hec is going away, but I don't have my son. They still have theirs."

Anna Rodriguez, Echevarria's mother, declined to comment. Attempts to reach the teen's lawyer, Richard Shore, were unsuccessful last night.


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