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Long IslandCrime

Handball court dedicated to slain Hempstead teen

Steve Alguera sheds tears as the new handball

Steve Alguera sheds tears as the new handball court, named the Wall of Hope, is dedicated to the memory of his brother Michael Alguera, the freshman who was slain while playing handball at Hempstead High School in 2008. (May 7, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

In the fields of Hempstead High School, where two years ago a student was robbed and stabbed to death while playing handball, a tribute to both the teen's favorite sport and where he was assaulted now stands in his memory.

On Jan. 18, 2008, freshman Michael Alguera, 15, was playing handball on campus after class dismissal when police say a group of masked men robbed him and his friends of their cell phones and stabbed him in the stomach as they fled.

The case remains unsolved, but the school grounds have a permanent marker to Alguera. On Friday, officials from the school district and the Nassau County district attorney's office unveiled a new handball court, bordered in sky-blue paint that matched the spotless sunny skies.

"This is the most respectful and beautiful thing that could happen from a tragedy," Alguera's oldest brother Steve, 23, said as he gazed upon the court, built beside the football field.

During a dedication ceremony, District Attorney Kathleen Rice pledged to continue investigating the case. "We will never stop looking to solve this crime," she said, while looking at Michael's parents, Oscar and Clementina, and brothers Steve and Oscar Jr., 19.

Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall asked for help with the investigation. "Out there, someone knows something," he said. "I'm imploring all of you, if you know something, come forward."

Clementina Alguera spoke tearfully in Spanish, asking for justice for her son. After the ceremony, she said through a family translator she had mixed emotions: "Standing here is where the tragedy happened. But it's also like bringing him back."

Assistant District Attorney Rene Fiechter said the fundraising for the $28,000 court took two years. "It's not over yet," he said, noting that the court still needs fences and volunteer coaches.

But for now, the new court awaited its first handball game Friday afternoon. Steve Alguera solemnly served a ball out, and Oscar Jr., in tears, played next to him.

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