WILKES-BARRE ‚?? By covering up the deadly accidental shooting of 14-year-old Tyler Winstead, a mother and son prolonged the pain for his family, cost investigators valuable time and money and possibly added to their own punishment, Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said Friday.
The alleged lies and cover-up by Angelina DeAbreu, 30, and Elijah Yusiff, 14, also resulted in an unsettled community, Salavantis explained.
‚??It would be a very different outcome if they came forward that night and said ‚??This was an accident, two kids playing around,‚??‚?Ě Salavantis said. ‚??It would have reduced a lot of pain, especially for the family of Tyler Winstead, who have been sitting back patiently trying to figure out what happened to their son.‚?Ě
Salavantis spoke out after DeAbreu surrendered on charges of tampering with evidence, giving false information to investigators and corrupting a minor. She was arraigned by District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre and was released on $2,500 unsecured bail.
Investigators said Winstead was shot on April 5 inside DeAbreu‚??s house at 117 Hill St. when Yusiff removed a .22-caliber revolver from a book-shaped case. Winstead was sitting on a bed in DeAbreu‚??s bedroom when Yusiff turned with his finger on the trigger, according to the criminal complaint filed against DeAbreu.
The gun discharged and a bullet struck Winstead in the chest, killing the Wilkes-Barre Area GAR Junior/Senior High School honor student.
After the shooting, Yusiff told investigators and reporters Winstead was shot outside by a man who drove away in a red Ford, the complaint says
Court records allege DeAbreu hid the firearm and Yusiff hid the shell casing in a pile of scrap metal behind 119 Hill St., where Winstead‚??s legal guardians and grandparents, Willie and Carol Golden, reside.
Salavantis said the firearm has not been recovered.
‚??This was a terrible accident,‚?Ě DeAbreu‚??s attorney, Thomas Marsilio, said. ‚??Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Tyler Winstead. Angelina of course is very sorry for what had occurred. She made some errors as far as judgment is concerned, and she is now answering to those errors in judgment through the criminal procedure.‚?Ě
Yusiff was charged with an undisclosed offense in May. Due to his age, Salavantis said state law prohibits her from discussing the case against him.
Yusiff is identified in the criminal complaint filed against DeAbreu as ‚??Juvenile one.‚?Ě
Salavantis said Yusiff‚??s claim that Winstead was gunned down in a drive-by shooting caused a large waste of assets and resulted in a community in fear of a gunman that didn‚??t exist.
‚??It was a huge distraction and it took days of resources away from my office and the Wilkes-Barre Police Department,‚?Ě Salavantis said. ‚??You‚??re talking about a lot of time and money that went to trying to find a car in a drive-by, not to mention the community that was so distressed over this. When you hear a 14-year-old boy has been shot and killed in Wilkes-Barre because some random person shot him, it was devastating on the entire community.‚?Ě
Salavantis said investigators began to question the stories by DeAbreu and Yusiff after only a few days.
‚??After a couple of days of getting witnesses and talking to people, we realized something was not right,‚?Ě the district attorney said. ‚??While we are doing the investigation, we realized she did conceal evidence that would have led us to finding out what happened that caused a young man to lose his life.‚?Ě
Salavantis said the unfortunate death of Winstead should be a lesson for other gun owners to secure their firearms away from children.
DeAbreu waived the misdemeanor charges to county court, making a preliminary hearing unnecessary.
A formal arraignment is scheduled on Nov. 2 in county court.