A teenager who pleaded guilty last month to murder in the murder of an 18-year-old Barnard student was sentenced to nine years in life on Thursday.
The teenager, Luchiano Lewis, 16, said last month that he and two friends traveled to Morningside Park in Harlem in December 2019 with the aim of robbing someone. The group settled on Tessa Majors, Mr Lewis said, describing a violent attack on the student which resulted in her stabbing death.
At the time, Mr. Lewis was 14 years old. Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office have chosen to indict him and another member of the group, Rashaun Weaver, as adults. Mr Weaver, who Mr Lewis said last month stabbed Ms Majors, has pleaded not guilty. His trial date is expected to be set early next week.
The third member of their group was 13 at the time of the murder and confessed to his involvement the day after the crime. (The New York Times retains his name because he was a minor and was not charged as an adult.) The boy was later sentenced to up to 18 months in a detention center for minors, much to the dismay of Ms. Majors’ family, who issued a statement condemning the result.
Ms. Majors’ death rocked New Yorkers, with the crime dating back to decades past when the streets were not safe for walking at night.
Mr Lewis was arrested in February 2020 and charged with immobilizing Ms Majors, preventing her escape. He initially pleaded not guilty, but last month changed his plea before making a lengthy statement, explaining the events of that winter night in detail. In addition to the nine-year life sentence for murder, he was sentenced to 40 months for robbery, to be executed simultaneously.
Mr Lewis said Mr Weaver had repeatedly encouraged him to join him in committing robberies and that they had gone to the park to do so several times before the night of Ms Majors’ murder. In one case, just weeks before the fatal meeting with Ms Majors, Mr Lewis said that he, Mr Weaver and the third member of their group attacked a man, but the attempted theft ultimately failed.
Mr Lewis said the meeting with Ms Majors began when Mr Weaver kicked her in the back. Ms Majors and Mr Weaver then began to wrestle on the ground, Mr Lewis said, adding that using a knife was never part of the plan.
He did not mention any physical contact between him and Ms Majors, adding that he was unaware that she had been stabbed, let alone killed, until the next morning when he saw a report on the murder on his telephone. advised the third member of their group to get rid of the knife.