BROOKLYN (PIX11) — Hopeton Minott felt compelled to write to PIX11 Investigates after watching our coverage of a 14-year-old Bronx middle school student who allegedly stabbed his classmate to death.
Minott, 37, was in the same shoes, 20 years ago.
“I felt the same thing happened to me,” Minott told PIX11 on the porch of his mother’s home in Canarsie. “I just felt bad for the kid.”
On Oct. 26, 1994, a 17-year-old Minott had just returned to Mount Vernon High School, after a week’s suspension for fighting in the hallway. He was living with his father because his mother feared some influences in Brooklyn.
Minott said another teen had grabbed his friend by the throat the week before in the school hallway. The night before he returned to Mount Vernon High, he called his mother in Brooklyn and asked to come home.
“To this day, she feels bad about it,” Minott said, “because she didn’t really listen to me.”
On that October morning, Minott said he had just finished his first class — accounting — to find a throng of about 10 people were waiting for him in the hallway. He told PIX11 he tried to escape to the stairwell.
“And they jumped me,” Minott remembered. “Once I saw blood, and I saw a knife pulled, I just grabbed it.”
Minott said he had been slashed on the eyebrow in the melee and in the hand. Police later took him to the Mount Vernon precinct. He made a statement, without a lawyer.
“Then, eventually, the police tell me I’m locked up for murder,” he said.
Minott made bail and a jury later convicted him of manslaughter, but Minott said jurors wrote a letter to Westchester County Judge Peter Leavitt asking Minott receive leniency.
The judge gave Minott probation, but when it came out that he was facing a robbery charge in Brooklyn, the Westchester judge re-sentenced Minott, and he was sentenced to three to nine years in prison. Minott went home after three-and-a-half years.
“You might as well mind your business, don’t join any gangs, and stay away from the drugs,” Minott said of his prison experience.
Minott said he followed these rules, got out of jail in 1999, and never went back. He is now married with five children, although holding a steady job is tough.
“If you Google my name, my whole situation comes up,” Minott told PIX11.
Minott emailed PIX11 News after watching our coverage of an 11-year-old Staten Island boy who said he was so worn down by school abuse that he considered killing himself or others.
Minott told us he was especially moved by the plight of Noel Estevez. Recently, a Bronx grand jury decided not to indict Estevez for murder in adult court.
His case was moved to family court and, no matter what happens, he won’t remain in jail past the age of 18.