The 15-year-old Royalton boy who shot his twin brother in the hip Feb. 21 expressed regrets Friday.
"I'm extremely sorry for what happened," the boy told Niagara County Family Court Judge John F. Batt. "It's not like I intended for this to happen to my twin brother."
The boy made the remarks while being arraigned before Batt on a charge of second-degree assault. His twin brother was struck by a blast of birdshot from a 12-gauge shotgun at close range in their Riddle Road home, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office said at the time.
Defense attorney Sunil Bakshi said the Niagara County District Attorney's Office has dropped the idea of prosecuting the 15-year-old as an adult and transferred the case to Family Court.
Originally, the boy was charged with first-degree assault, a Class B violent felony. Under the law, a juvenile can be prosecuted in adult court only in cases where he has committed that level of crime or worse.
But Bakshi said prosecutors decided they couldn't make a first-degree assault charge stick. It requires proof of intent to cause serious injury.
The 15-year-old still is charged with an intentional attack on his brother, but Bakshi said: "The papers didn't reek of an intentional act. If anything, it's a careless act."
That was backed up by the boys' father, who told Batt, "They don't have any issues at home. They haven't had a fist fight in two years. This was an isolated incident."
The boys have been living together at home since the victim's release from the hospital. The shooter is attending school, but the victim is not, as he continues to recuperate.
With the District Attorney's Office out of the picture, the prosecution is being handled by the County Attorney's Office.
Assistant County Attorney Theodore W. Janese III asked Batt to ship the shooter to a secure detention facility while the case is pending.
"For the safety of the community, for the safety of the victim, for the safety of the respondent, I think this is one of those circumstances where secure detention is justified," Janese said.
"I don't believe my client intended to hurt his brother," Bakshi replied. He said the incident happened on a school holiday when they got into a fight.
"I think they got the picture that this kind of stuff can't happen," Bakshi said.
The father said police confiscated all guns in the house after the shooting.
Batt allowed the boy to remain at home. He is under pretrial supervision by a probation officer, and the father agreed to have the school bus drop the shooter off at his business, an auto repair shop, so the boys won't be alone together.
"I don't want him to have that unsupervised contact with his brother," said Batt, who held the case over for further action next month. Bakshi said he will try to work out a plea bargain with Assistant County Attorney John Sansone, who was unable to appear Friday.
"I love my boys. I just wish this never happened," said the boys' mother, who was brought from the County Jail for the court appearance.
She is scheduled to be incarcerated until Aug. 31 for smoking marijuana while on probation on two misdemeanor drunken driving charges, court officials said.