MANHATTAN FAMILY COURT — The emotional mother of one of the 12-year-old boys accused of dropping a shopping cart from a Harlem mall walkway onto a Manhattan real estate broker and philanthropist said that her son apologizes for the tragic incident.
"He's sorry to the family that got affected," said a sobbing Rosemary Rosario after her son's second family court appearance.
"It's a terrible thing. I really hope she recuperates. I really, really feel for her and her children."
Rosario's son and his friend, whose names are being withheld by DNAinfo, face felony assault and weapons possession charges as juveniles for allegedly pushing a shopping cart off the fourth floor walkway of the East River Plaza mall on Oct. 30, leaving Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Marion Hedges, 47, in a coma.
Hedges and her 14-year-old son were reportedly shopping for Halloween candy at the Costco store on the first floor of the mall, to provide it to underprivileged kids.
"My heart goes out to Mrs. Hedges [and] her family. I'm also a mother," Rosario said after the hearing, at which a judge refused to release the boy back into her custody.
"My son is only 12-years-old. He's a good kid. I just need help. I'm a single mother."
The boy's lawyer said the mother would have walked him to and from school, keeping an eye on him at all times, if Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee agreed to release the children from a low security juvenile detention center run by the Administration for Children's Services where they have been held since their arrest Sunday night.
Larabee declined, and ordered the boys to appear back at court Nov. 18 for a pre-trial hearing.
Both boys, whose names are being withheld by DNAinfo, appeared nervous inside the courtroom. One of them was dressed in a black jacket, hoodie, black pants and dress shoes. The other boy was wearing a blue hoodie and jeans.
Assistant Corporation Counsel Leah Schmelzer said prosecutors had about 10 witnesses who are expected to testify at the boys' upcoming trial.
Lawyer Sandeep Kandhariy, who represents the other boy charged in the case, argued in court that his client is a good boy with "no history of running away," and has only been to school late twice so far this school year.
"It's his first arrest. He's lived his entire life with his mom," Kandhariy said. "We understand the tragic nature of this case. What happened to this woman on Sunday is horrible."
But he argued that the boys should be released because they did not mean to cause any harm.
"They are not charging him with an intentional act here. The fact is that this is not an intentional crime," Kandhariy said.
If convicted, the boys face 18 months in a juvenile detention center, with the potential for the judge to extend the sentence indefinitely until the defendants turn 18 years old, according to the city's Law Department.
Lawyer Shahabuddeen Ally, who represents Rosario's son, told reporters outside of court that his client wants to go home.
The boy "has a lot of questions" about what will happen to him, Ally said.
"He's 12 years old, he reacts like a 12-year-old in terms of understanding where he is, why he's here," Ally said. "He has a lot of questions. At this point, so do we."
Ally declined to elaborate on what the child believes happened at the East River Plaza mall parking lot on Sunday.
"I just hope we remember that this is a 12-year-old and this is tragic, it really is," he said.
Police sources said a third boy tried to stop the pair from pushing the cart over the edge, but they ignored him.
Hedges, who attended the elite Spence School on the Upper East Side, graduated from Barnard College. She went on to become involved with some of the city's most prominent civic and philanthropic organizations, from the Junior League of New York to the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center on the Upper West Side.
Hedges was standing near the entrance of Costco at the 116th Street shopping center with her young son just feet away when she was struck by the falling cart. She remains in critical but stable condition at Harlem Hospital.
"She's going to be, in the best of all cases, in rehabilitation for months," her distraught husband, Michael Hedges, told DNAinfo earlier this week.
Jeff Mays contributed reporting.