GRAND CONCOURSE — Lawyers for the bullied 14-year-old Bronx student accused of killing a classmate plan to interview "hundreds" of fellow students and friends of the teen in a bid to prove he acted in self defense, they said Tuesday.
Noel Estevez's lawyer Eric Poulos told reporters at the teen's hearing at Bronx Supreme Court that he and his legal team needed a few additional days to continue their investigation to counter prosecutors' murder charges.
"There are hundreds of kids we need to talk to," Poulos said, adding that Noel had been terrorized for months by 14-year-old classmate and former friend Timothy Crump before fatally stabbing him in front of Joseph H. Wade middle school in Mount Hope on July 17.
"The Board of Ed failed him. The cops failed him... Legal aid is not going to fail him," Poulos vowed.
"We're doing what nobody else did. We're doing it right," he added, saying they plan to collect as much information as possible before returning to court on Monday and deciding whether Noel would testify before the grand jury.
"If Noel testifies, there's only one thing to say. The truth," Poulos said.
Prosecutors have charged the boy with murder, ordered him tried in adult court and asked he be held without bail.
Noel did not appear during Tuesday morning's hearing and Poulos' colleague Deborah Rush tried to convince Bronx Supreme Court judge Marc Whiten to close the hearing to press because of the boy's age and past "psychiatric background."
Noel tried to commit suicide earlier this year as a result of bullying, according to family friends.
His relatives declined to talk after the hearing, other than to say, "It was self defense. He was being bullied."