Young teenager pleads guilty in connection to college student's murder

A 14-year-old boy charged in connection with the stabbing death of Barnard College student Tessa Majors pleaded guilty to robbery charges Wednesday in family court.

The unnamed teenager pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery as a juvenile -- a felony. He will be sentenced by a judge on June 15 to a limited security facility for six to 18 months.

"This resolution is in the best interest of the community and for a youth who has had no prior contact with the juvenile justice system and was not the main actor in the murder," said James E. Johnson, the city's corporation counsel, a division that prosecutes juvenile offenders, in a statement.

The juvenile was 13 years old when he and two other teenagers, Rashaun Weaver and Luchiano Lewis, were accused in the fatal stabbing of Majors during a mugging gone wrong last December in Morningside Park, steps from Barnard College.

Majors, 18, was stabbed several times before she staggered up a flight of stairs and uttered, "Help me, I'm being robbed," authorities said.

The then-13-year-old did not physically stab Majors, according to authorities, but he confessed to providing the murder weapon to Weaver.

"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," the boy said in statements to police. "Rashaun used the knife that I had handed to him to stab Tessa and I saw feathers coming out of her coat. Then I saw Rashaun take a plastic bag out of her pocket."

The guilty plea was reached after a pretrial hearing determined that the teenager's lawful statements to the police could be used against him at trial.

"The robbery and murder of Tessa majors was a horrific crime," Johnson said. "No family should have to endure such pain. We investigated the case involving [the teen] fairly based on the facts and with justice as our goal. This resolution is in the best interest of the community and for a youth who has had no prior contact with the juvenile justice system and was not the main actor in the murder."

"Tessa Majors's death was tragic. It caused incalculable pain to her loved ones and affected our entire city," The Legal Aid Society said in a statement. "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."

"He will face its repercussions for a long time, likely the rest of his life," it continued. "This plea clears a path for him and his family to move forward with their lives. His acceptance of responsibility is an important first step; it provides an opportunity for this now 14-year-old to achieve a successful future."

The other two teens, Weaver and Lewis, who were 14 at the time of the alleged attack, have been charged as adults in Majors' death.

Their cases are still pending in Manhattan Criminal Court.
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