Teen Involved in Stabbing of Barnard Student Tessa Majors Sentenced to 18 Months in Custody

Wire Service
By Wire Service
June 16, 2020New York
Teen Involved in Stabbing of Barnard Student Tessa Majors Sentenced to 18 Months in Custody
Tessa Majors. (Tessa Majors/Instagram)

A teenager involved in the fatal stabbing of Barnard student Tessa Majors in New York last December was sentenced to 18 months in the custody of the Administration for Children’s Services on June 15.

The now-14-year-old boy, whom CNN is not naming because he was not charged as an adult, has been in custody since December and pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery earlier this month.

He will serve a minimum of six months in a limited secure facility, according to the New York Law Department, which is handling the case. After that, ACS has the discretion to release him and monitor his progress in the community, and his placement may be extended until he turns 18, the department said.

The sentence comes six months after Majors, an 18-year-old freshman at Barnard, was stabbed several times while walking through Manhattan’s Morningside Park. Authorities say she staggered her way up a flight of stairs and was later found by a school security officer. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Tessa Majors at St. Anne's Belfield School
Photos, articles, and letters are laid out on display before a ceremony honoring Tessa Majors at St. Anne’s Belfield School in Charlottesville, Va., on Dec. 21, 2019. (Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress/AP)

Inman and Christy Majors, Tessa Majors’ parents, read a victim impact statement in court Monday, according to Kristen Bothwell, a spokeswoman working with the Majors family.

“Tess would have turned 19 on May 11. That day has come and gone without her. The Majors family has experienced their first Christmas without her, a holiday that will be forever tainted by sharing the month of her murder,” the impact statement read. “The first Mother’s Day without her has come and gone, the first Father’s Day without her will be this Sunday. The Majors family wakes up thinking about her and goes to bed thinking about her. Her absence is palpable and unrelenting.”

Suspect of killing Tessa Majors
The New York Police Department released three photos, on December 20, 2019, of an unidentified teenage suspect in connection to the fatal stabbing of Barnard College student Tessa Majors. (New York Police Department)

At his plea hearing, the teen told the court he went into Morningside Park with two friends, Rashaun Weaver and Lucci Lewis, intending to rob someone.

“After that, we saw Tessa Majors walking on the stairs inside the park. Rashaun went up to her and said something to her and Tessa yelled for help. Rashaun used the knife that I had handed to him to stab Tessa and I saw feathers coming out of her coat,” he said.

The teen said in court that the three ran out of the park together. The other two teens each face multiple murder and robbery charges. They were charged as adults and pleaded not guilty to those charges in February.

College Student Slain
A woman walks past a make-shift memorial for Tessa Majors inside the Barnard campus in New York, on Dec. 12, 2019. (Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

The teenager was represented by an attorney with the Legal Aid Society.

“This plea to Robbery in the First Degree is consistent with our client’s limited role in this tragic event. He did not touch Ms. Majors or take any of her property. Furthermore, no DNA evidence exists linking him to the events,” Legal Aid’s statement said. “His acceptance of responsibility is an important first step; it provides an opportunity for this now 14-year-old to achieve a successful future.”

In their impact statement, Majors’ parents said the teen “has shown a complete lack of remorse or contrition” for his role in their daughter’s death. The family also noted that the statement from Legal Aid avoided using the word “murder” and instead referred to Tessa’s death as “tragic.”

“Reading this description of events, some might wonder if perhaps Tess Majors was involved in an accident,” the statement read. “Tess Majors did not die in an accident. Tess Majors was murdered, plain and simple, and no amount of semantic gymnastics changes that fact.”

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