Murder ‘tore at the fabric’ of the city: Tessa Majors stabbing aftermath shown as 16-year-old sentenced to nine years

‘It is hard for many old friends to be around us. Our grief is too profound. We are too changed from the people we used to be,’ parents say in statement

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 15 October 2021 16:30 BST
Tessa Majors was stabbed to death in New York City
Tessa Majors was stabbed to death in New York City (Instagram)

A 16-year-old male has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the murder of Tessa Majors, the 18-year-old Barnard College student who was stabbed to death in December 2019 in New York City.

Luchiano Lewis was handed the maximum sentence following the failed robbery, which also involved his friends Rashaun Weaver, who was 14 years old at the time, and Zyairr Davis, then 13 years old.

The stabbing took place in Morningside Park in northwestern Manhattan on 11 December 2019 when Rashaun kicked Ms Majors in the back as she was walking past looking at her phone.

During the following struggle, Ms Majors bit Weaver and screamed for help. It was at this time that Lewis reportedly held Ms Majors in a headlock as Weaver stabbed her multiple times, including in the heart. The three boys ran off with her iPhone.

Lewis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in September.

Judge Robert Mandelbaum said that “the murder of Tessa Majors tore at the fabric of this entire city”.

When sentencing Lewis to the maximum sentence, the judge cited his bad record in jail, such as being caught with contraband and being involved in the slashing of another inmate for grabbing a blanket Lewis wanted, The New York Post reported.

“Sadly and troubling, the defendant has learned no lesson,” Judge Mandelbaum said before handing down the maximum sentence for someone Lewis’s age.

“On December 11, 2019, the hopes and dreams for our daughter Tess came to a tragic end,” parents Inman and Christy Majors said in a statement. It was read out loud in Manhattan’s Supreme Court by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos.

“Nearly two years later, we still find words inadequate to describe the immeasurable pain, trauma, and suffering that our family has endured since her senseless murder,” the statement added. Mr Majors was emotional in court, his wife didn’t attend the proceeding. “Tess was a brilliant student, a voracious reader, a poet and a fledgling journalist. She had big dreams.”

“Mostly she loved her family and friends, her cats, and especially her younger brother,” the statement said. “They were best friends.”

Ms Majors had just moved to New York from Virginia to start college when she was killed.

“Our hearts ache as we watch Tess’ friends return to school, perform concerts, start new jobs, and experience all the things that our daughter never will,” her parents said in the statement. “It is hard for many old friends to be around us. Our grief is too profound. We are too changed from the people we used to be.

“Tess was a friend to the friendless and kind in all the little ways that people remember forever,” they added. “And she was brave. Her family misses her every moment of every day.”

Court documents reveal that Ms Majors fought back during the attack, calling Lewis a “coward” and getting DNA from Weaver under fingernails.

“With every legal proceeding, we are forced to re-live the events,” the parents continued. “We have not been able to grieve our daughter properly or in peace. Nearly two years after her murder, we still have very little closure.”

Mr Majors, an English professor at James Madison University, left the courtroom as Mr Bogdanos played a video showing the aftermath of the attack – Ms Majors could be seen stumbling towards a lamppost, then collapsing onto the ground, where she died.

“Our lives are forever changed, and not a day goes by that we don’t think about what could have been for Tess’s future,” the parents added. “Not a day goes by that we don’t consider what could have been done to prevent her brutal — and again, senseless — death.”

The defence for Lewis asked that he be handed the minimum sentence.

“As a human, I feel ashamed, embarrassed and sad,” Lewis said in the courtroom. “I am not the monster you once thought I was.”

“Dad, I am sorry I failed you,” he told his father, who was in the room. “I promise I will make you proud again.”

Zyairr Davis, who was 13 years old at the time of the attack, has also pleaded guilty. He was charged as a juvenile delinquent. Last year, he was sentenced to 18 months in detention for one count of first-degree robbery.

Weavers is still awaiting trial.

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