Shopping Cart Pusher Had Six School Suspensions

By Shayna Jacobs on December 7, 2011 8:01pm 

A sketch of the boys accused of pushing a shopping cart off of a Harlem parking garage, critically injuring philanthropist Marion Hedges.
A sketch of the boys accused of pushing a shopping cart off of a Harlem parking garage, critically injuring philanthropist Marion Hedges.
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Jane Rosenberg

MANHATTAN FAMILY COURT — The second boy to admit tossing a Target shopping cart that struck real estate broker Marion Hedges, knocking her into a coma, previously pushed his school principal and terrorized classmates, it was revealed Wednesday at the first of his sentencing hearings.

The 12-year-old boy, who came from an "extremely unstable" home, had six suspensions from school for a variety of bad behavior, according to official reports cited by Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee on Wednesday.

"The [school] records show six suspensions, taking property, physical altercations, slurs, coercion,  threats, horseplay, shoving and pushing," Larabee said, referring to the court records.  

"I did recall reading something about throwing a chair and pushing a principal — that's all the more reason I want [more documents] from the school," she said, adding that she would sign a subpoena to obtain them. 

Further details about the incidents and the school the boy attended were not immediately available.

The judge declined to release the boy, whose name is being withheld by DNAinfo, into his parents custody partly because of a rocky past where allegations of neglect plagued the family and the boy's life.

In one instance, the boy's father is alleged to have committed acts of domestic violence, although it did not appear that the boy was removed from his home as a result.

In another, his mother allegedly kept him home from school when he was 6-years-years old so he could help with chores and take care of his developmentally disabled sister, the report said.

"[The child] he had to help clean the house and do the mopping and sweeping," the judge read from the reports to the boy's attorney.

And in April 2009, a Queens neglect case cited "a history of domestic violence involving [the boy's] father," the judge said.

Further details about the incidents were not immediately available.

"[His] living situation has been extremely unstable for the last couple of years and each family member appears to give different reasons for that," the judge said.

Witnesses said Marion Hedges is in critical condition after being hit by a shopping cart at Target in Harlem, Oct. 30, 2011.
Witnesses said Marion Hedges is in critical condition after being hit by a shopping cart at Target in Harlem, Oct. 30, 2011.
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Prudential Douglas Elliman

One lingering question, according to the judge, is which parent was responsible for watching him on Oct. 30, the day he and his friend threw the cart that landed on Hedges, an Upper West Side mom and known philanthropist, as her young son watched in horror from feet away.

"Apparently nobody knew he was at the mall on the day in question. His family gave him a specific geographic perimeter that he was allowed to play in and this was well beyond that area," the judge said.

According to the boy's attorney, William Nicholas, his mother and father live in different apartments in the same building in Harlem and share responsibility for him.

The boy and and another, who is now 13, each pleaded guilty to assault in family court and may face anything from probation to juvenile incarceration until they're 18.

Nicholas argued the school suspension records should not be considered as evidence because the suspensions were old and he has been well behaved in school for the past 2-1/2 to 3 years.

"He's 12 — we're talking about something that happened approximately 25 percent of his life ago," the lawyer said.

Both are currently being held in minimum security juvenile detention centers that are essentially group homes, where they're attending school and receiving counseling.

Prosecutors say the boys ignored warnings from one of their friends who tried to pull the cart away from them so they couldn't hurl it off the fourth story of the parking garage at the East River Plaza.

On Tuesday, the 13-year-old submitted a letter to the court to be given to Hedges.

Both boys are due back in court at later dates in December.

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