THE BRONX — The 14-year-old charged with stabbing his classmate to death during a fight outside their school Wednesday had been living in terror of a group of boys — the victim among them, the suspect's lawyer said.
The boys routinely urinated on Noel Estevez's front door while shouting "You are f---ing dead," said attorney Eric Poulos after the boy's arraignment Thursday night.
"Yesterday was his first day back [in school]" Poulos said in court. "They didn't even give him a chance to breathe. They went after him right away like a pack of wolves."
Estevez had returned to school Wednesday after receiving psychiatric care following a suicide attempt, law enforcement sources and a family friend said.
He started arguing about a missing cellphone with Timothy Crump, also 14, outside Joseph H. Wade middle school, at 1865 Morris Ave., his lawyer and officials said.
The confrontation turned physical and Estevez plunged a knife into Crump, killing him, police said. He was charged with murder and manslaughter, prosecutors said.
He told police, "The kid kept hitting me with his fists so I stabbed him four or five times," said prosecutor Alina Levi in court.
But Poulos said his client had acted out of self defense because Crump, who sources said had been suspended since Dec. 16 for knocking out the teeth of another classmate during a fight, had long been one of Estevez's tormenters.
"He was being assaulted and defended himself. He's got a right to defend himself from bodily attack," Poulos said.
"Someone is a bully, does things as a bully — sometimes that comes back. Tragic result," the defense attorney added.
On several occasions, Crump and a group of other boys would break into Estevez's Concourse apartment building and urinate on his front door, Poulos and the boy's neighbors said.
"We know that five to seven different times they came to his apartment, tried to knock down the door and told him he was dead," Poulos said outside court.
"My client saw him [Crump] through the peephole," the lawyer added.
Mayor Bill de Blasio "directed First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris to coordinate all of the relevant agencies to assist in this investigation, including the NYPD, DOE, and ACS.
"Their work will, by necessity, take a hard look at how we as a city address mental health and safety in our schools," he said Thursday. "Protecting children in crisis is one of the most fundamental responsibilities we have, and we will make sure these families and this community have the answers they deserve.”
Crump's family could not immediately be reached.
Estevez was being held without bail.