Crime and Courts

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Tessa Majors

Read the Powerful Letter Tessa Majors' Family Wrote After Teen Sentenced in Her Death

The victims impact statement read that "from December 12th until this day — the respondent has shown a complete lack of remorse or contrition for his role in the murder of Tess Majors"

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Following the slaying of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors in Morningside Park on December 11, three teen boys were accused of being involved in her death.

After a lengthy manhunt, three middle schoolers were eventually charged. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said police believed 14-year-old Rashaun Weaver was the one who stabbed the college freshman, as prosecutors allege that Luciano Lewis, also 14, prevented her from escaping as she called out for help. Weaver was brought into police custody on February 14, while Lewis was charged six days later.

Those two teens, Weaver and Lewis, are being charged as adults and await trial for felony murder and robbery.

Third teen pleaded guilty to juvenile robbery charges, and was sentenced to 18 months — six months of which will be served in a limited secure facility. NBC New York is not identifying the 13-year-old because he was charged as a juvenile.

The 14-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder charges stemming from the alleged murder of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors. NBC New York’s Myles Miller reports.

At the sentencing hearing for that teen, Majors' parents Inman and Christy Majors released a victim impact statement blasting all sides of the trial, ranging from the defense, the prosecution, to the defendant himself.

The family said that the teen "has shown a complete lack of remorse or contrition" for his role in the killing.

"By his own admission, the respondent picked up a knife that had fallen to the ground and handed it to an individual who then used it to stab Tess Majors to death," the statement read. "The family can’t help but wonder what would have happened if that knife had been left on the ground."

The grieving parents also noted the plea deal's studious avoidance of the word murder.

"They note as well the language used by the Legal Aid Society in their press release regarding the plea deal, which states that 'Tess Majors’s death was tragic.' Reading this description of events, some might wonder if perhaps Tess Majors was involved in an accident," the parents' statement said. "Tess Majors did not die in an accident.  Tess Majors was murdered, plain and simple, and no amount of semantic gymnastics changes that fact."

They also voiced anger over the prosecution's statement that said "this plea deal resolution is “in the best interest of the community.” The Majors family wonders how many in the community — any community, including the many Tess was a part of and the ones that her family members continue to be a part of — would agree with this assessment."

Read the full statement from Inman and Chrity Majors below:

There are no words adequate to describe the pain and suffering that the family of Tess Majors has endured since her death by murder.

On Labor Day weekend 2019, the parents of Tess Majors dropped her off at Barnard College in New York City to begin her freshman year of college. One hundred days later, they brought her home to Virginia in an urn.

What words could be used to describe that grief? Compounding the sudden loss of their talented, kind, and beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, cousin, and niece is the incredibly violent nature of her death, which has been described in grisly detail by the respondent himself. 

The family can, however, articulate how these hearings have amplified their pain.  On December 12th, the day after Tess Majors was murdered in Morningside Park, the respondent confessed to his role in her slaying.  Six months later, in his plea deal, the respondent has confessed to telling the truth in December.  The Majors family wonders what these hearings have been about. 

The family notes the negotiated parsing of language of the plea deal which studiously avoids use of the word “murder.”  They note as well the language used by the Legal Aid Society in their press release regarding the plea deal, which states that “Tess Majors’s death was tragic.” Reading this description of events, some might wonder if perhaps Tess Majors was involved in an accident.   Tess Majors did not die in an accident.  Tess Majors was murdered, plain and simple, and no amount of semantic gymnastics changes that fact.

The family also notes that--from December 12th until this day--the respondent has shown a complete lack of remorse or contrition for his role in the murder of Tess Majors. By his own admission, the respondent picked up a knife that had fallen to the ground and handed it to an individual who then used it to stab Tess Majors to death.

The family can’t help but wonder what would have happened if that knife had been left on the ground.

The family of Tess Majors was also impacted by the statement put out by the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, which claimed that the respondent was “not the main actor in the murder.”  As far as the family is concerned, there are no minor actors in the murder of Tess Majors.  The Corporation Counsel’s statement also states that this plea deal resolution is “in the best interest of the community.” The Majors family wonders how many in the community---any community, including the many Tess was a part of and the ones that her family members continue to be a part of--would agree with this assessment. 

Tess would have turned 19 on May 11th.  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 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.

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