In the last moments of his 14-year life, Joe Phillips called his friend's cellphone, cursing in panic. He was trapped by flames that had gotten out of control during what had been a summer afternoon of mischief inside a vacant New York building. "I'm really stuck, dude, I'm (expletive). I'm (expletive) going to die," Joe shouted into the voicemail of the 13-year-old who'd been with him moments earlier at the tire recycling complex. Then panting, with resignation in his voice, "Sorry, dude. I love you, man," the call ended. "I never thought I'd die this way." On Tuesday, the surviving teen, whose name has not been released because of his age, will learn his fate in Family Court. He could be sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility after pleading guilty in March to arson and burglary, reports the AP.
Joe's mother, Ann Phillips, won't say what punishment she thinks the now-14-year-old, who never called 911, deserves. Along with the phone message, video found on the surviving teen's phone offered a view into the building on Aug. 10, 2016. It shows a fire escape the teens used to get inside High Tread International in Lockport. They walk through darkened rooms using a lighter to ignite papers and watch them burn. When one of the fires spread too quickly, defense attorney A. Angelo DiMillo said, the surviving teen ran outside to get water as Joe used his shirt to try to tamp down the flames. The surviving teen has been in and out of the hospital with mental health issues and has tried to harm himself, a probation officer testified this month. (Read more fire stories.)