The family and lawyer of Steven Moschella, who is accused of killing his best friend, say the teen is filled with grief and often asks about his friend's family.
Steven Moschella asked for two things when he was bailed out of juvenile jail on Tuesday: a Mountain Dew and chocolate cupcakes.
The 16-year-old had been locked up for nearly two weeks, accused of killing his best friend, Teddy Niziol, in the parking lot of Ridgewood High School. On Monday, prosecutors charged Moschella as an adult with manslaughter, which could bring the teenager a 15-year sentence in state prison if convicted.
"He has a lot of soul-searching to do," said Moschella's stepfather, Doug Wimmer. Moschella's family and lawyer held a news conference Tuesday night on the family's front lawn. The teen stayed inside.
"He's not totally with it. He's upset. He's torn apart," Wimmer said.
As Moschella's lawyer, Keith Hammond, put it: "He's dealing with the emotions of having his best friend die in his arms."
Police say 16-year-old Niziol had a stolen .22-caliber Magnum pistol in his Toyota 4-Runner after school on Jan. 19. Niziol, Moschella and three other students were sitting in the truck when Niziol passed the gun to Moschella, who was sitting in the back seat, officials say.
Moschella pulled the trigger, and a bullet sliced through the front seat and into Niziol's spine. The teen died almost instantly.
"This was a tragic accident," Hammond said. "It's hard for him to even deal with this incident."
The family has hired counselors to help Moschella deal with his grief, Hammond said. The teen constantly has asked about the Niziol family, he said.
Hammond said he expects to receive police reports quickly and hopes the trial will be put on a fast track.
Moschella is not linked to the burglaries in St. Pete Beach that yielded the stolen weapon, Hammond said. Pasco County Sheriff Lee Cannon said it is likely that Niziol was involved in those thefts.
While in jail, Moschella was comforted by two things, said his mother, Pamela Wimmer _ support from family and friends and reading the Bible.
While in jail, Moschella's friends passed out 165 buttons bearing the teen's photo and circulated fliers demanding his release. During one of his court hearings, friends and family wore yellow ribbons and carried signs with their message.
Moschella's family posted a $5,000 bond Tuesday afternoon. Pamela Wimmer started crying when she recalled seeing her son walk out of jail.
"It was like a piece of my heart had been put back in me," she said. "I haven't been able to let go since he's been home."
_ Staff writer Tamara Lush is the police reporter in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is lushsptimes.com.