BRONX, New York (WABC) -- Pretrial hearings got underway Tuesday in the manslaughter trial of a teenager accused in the fatal stabbing of a classmate inside their Bronx school.
Abel Cedeno is charged with first-degree manslaughter and assault in the death of 15-year-old Matthew McCree and is also accused of critically injuring 16-year-old Ariane Laboy at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in September 2017.
Tuesday is the date the judge set for trial, but there are several matters that first need to be resolved.
The hearing had to do with the admissibility of the suspect's confession, and at issue is the so-called "voluntariness" of the confession and whether Cedeno had heard and understood the Miranda warnings.
A portion was played for the judge, who will need to rule on a defense motion to suppress the confession. Hearings will continue Thursday, and the trial will begin with jury selection that is not expected to start before June 27.
The judge asked both sides to explore the possibility of a plea agreement, but the suggestion was instantly rejected by the defense team, who claimed that the district attorney's insistence on a 10-year prison sentence was unacceptable.
Cedeno has been free on bail, and his attorneys say he endured years of bullying about his sexual orientation.
In an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, Cedeno said he took a knife to school because he feared for his safety.
"The class was very rowdy and loudness and everything," he said. "I just snapped."
Robert Feldman, the attorney for Cedeno, said McCree came at his client from 50 feet away after taunting Cedeno.
"There are no 'alternative facts' here," Feldman said. "The truth speaks loudly."
The victim's mother voiced her outrage Cedeno's bail was lowered prior to his release.
"I'm pissed the hell off," Louna Dennis said. "I'm pissed. He gets to go home with his family for Christmas. My son is in a fricking cemetery. Fricking in the dirt. And he gets to go home to his family? I'm pissed the hell off, and at this point, I feel like the system is failing me."
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