Just over two years after the brutal murder of Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old Barnard College student, the last teenager convicted of his murder was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday.
The teenager, Rashaun Weaver, 16, had initially pleaded not guilty but changed her plea last month, pleading guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. Prosecutors have said Mr Weaver carried the knife that killed Mrs Majors in the December 2019 attack and stabbed her four times in the chest.
Mr. Weaver and two of his middle school classmates, all of whom were between 13 and 14 years old at the time, were charged with the deadly stabbing. Mr. Weaver's sentencing officially closes the case, which sent waves of shock and grief through New York City.
In a courtroom in Manhattan on Wednesday, the families of Mrs. Majors and Mr. Weaver sat on opposite sides of a hallway, listening while a prosecutor, Matthew Bogdanos, read a statement from Mrs. Major's family detailing her attack.
"They have no idea what it's like to stumble up a long flight of stairs after being stabbed several times in the chest with her phone still in her hand," Bogdanos said. "They have no idea what it's like to try to get on an Uber ride while sitting on a bench in the city after being stabbed. No idea what it's like to bleed to death on a New York City street in presence of strangers next to a security stand. "
He added: "Fourteen years back in life is a long time, but at the end of his sentence, Rashaun Weaver goes home. Tess never will."
Another teenager, Luchiano Lewis, 16, was sentenced in October to nine years in prison for life for Ms. Majors drab. He remembered in court how he, Mr. Weaver and another friend were hiking to Morningside Park with the intent to rob someone. He said the three teenagers had settled on Mrs Majors and described that they were attacking her.
The third person involved confessed to the killing and his participation shortly after the crime. He was later sentenced to up to 18 months in a juvenile jail. (The New York Times withholds his name because he was a minor who was not charged as an adult.)
After Mr. Bogdanos had read the statement, assured Mr. Weaver's attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, told the court that his client was remorseful.
He claimed that Mr. Weaver's turbulent upbringing in public housing, and the fact that his father and some other family members had spent time in prison, had influenced the kind of choices he made.
"He is a symptom rather than a cause in a very broken system," Mr Lichtman said. "Nothing absolves him of what he did, but it explains why we are here."
Mr. Weaver, who wore a shirt and face mask, read a statement aloud apologizing to the Majors family and promising he would never see the inside of a courtroom again.
"She deserved to have a long life," he said. "I wish I could go back in time."
Ms. Major’s killings rattled New York City, reminiscent of a time when city parks were more dangerous after dark.
Ms. Majors grew up in Charlottesville, Va., And moved to New York to attend school and pursue a career in music. She spent her weekends making punk rock music with her band, which had its first concert in town a few months before her death.
Mr. Bogdanos described the pain and sorrow that Mrs. Majors' family and friends have carried with them in her absence.
"She's not in this courtroom. Or attending a class. Or playing music. Or laughing with friends," he said. "She no longer exists on planet Earth. She's gone and she's gone forever. "