Crime and Courts

Teen at Heart of Tessa Majors Killing That Rocked NYC Pleads Guilty to Murder

Rashaun Weaver was 14 at the time the Barnard College student was killed; now 16, the assistant district attorney said he admitted to a codefendant he stabbed her because she "bit me"

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A teenage boy arrested in the 2019 deadly stabbing of Barnard College student Tessa Majors in a Manhattan park, a crime that rattled New York City residents for its apparent randomness, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder and robbery.

Rashaun Weaver, now 16, was first arrested and charged in the case in February of the following year. Prosecutors alleged he was the one who fatally stabbed Majors. He was 14 years old at the time of Majors' death but was charged as an adult with second-degree murder and robbery because of the nature of the crime.

Majors was stabbed as she walked through Morningside Park early the evening of Dec. 11, 2019. She staggered up a flight of stairs to the street and collapsed in a crosswalk. Two other boys were also arrested in the case.

In court Thursday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos said Weaver admitted to a codefendant that he stabbed Majors because she "bit me." Bogdanos said Weaver's father is incarcerated and the boy's mother called him in jail after Majors' stabbing to say that Weaver had been bitten on the right hand.

Police used that evidence to positively identify him as a suspect in Majors' stabbing. Prosecutors say police leaked that information to reporters, which helped Weaver's mother hide him in various places across the city amid the search for the college student's killer. The boy was ultimately arrested on Valentine's Day in 2019.

Weaver had robbed another person right before, by his own statement in court. As part of that written, prepared statement he delivered Thursday, Weaver admitted to that robbery and another one -- and intentionally causing the death of Majors.

The attack, two days before the start of final exams at the women's school, troubled city residents because of its proximity to campus and how random it appeared to be. Barnard is part of the Ivy League’s Columbia University.

Weaver is expected to be sentenced on Jan. 19. Bogdanos sought to lay out a case for the boy being a consistently violent person in court on Thursday. According to the prosecutor, Weaver had been caught with a weapon and drugs while staying at a detention facility. He allegedly shattered a window and attacked counselors on 11 separate occasions there, Bogdanos said.

The boy's attorney, high-powered defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman, told the court his client is redeemable. Weaver's family was inside the courtroom and yelled, "I love you!" as the teenager was taken back to a holding cell after the plea hearing.

Majors' father was also there. He didn't speak.

The young woman from Charlottesville, Virginia, played in a rock band and had told an editor from a newspaper internship in high school that she planned to take journalism classes in college. She was a freshman at Barnard when she died.

Weaver's co-defendant, Luchiano Lewis, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in court this fall. The other, a 14-year-old boy whom News 4 is not identifying because he was charged as a juvenile, pleaded guilty last year.

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