NEW YORK - A grand jury has indicted two teenagers in the robbery and stabbing death of a Barnard College student in December, the Manhattan district attorney announced on Wednesday. The teens will be tried as adults.
Luchiano Lewis, 14, surrendered to police on Wednesday. He arrived at Manhattan Supreme Court just before noon for his arraignment. He did not speak to reporters as he was walked into the courtroom in handcuffs.
Lewis is the third teen in custody in connection with the killing of Tessa Majors inside Morningside Park on Dec. 11, 2019.
The arrest came on the same day that Rashaun Weaver, 14, was set to be arraigned. Cops believe he dealt the lethal blow to Majors in a violent struggle.
"While a criminal process will never fully heal the unimaginable pain suffered by Tessa Majors' family and friends, this indictment is a significant step forward on the path to justice," New York County DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. "We are committed to holding these young people accountable, and equally committed to a fair process which safeguards their rights. This is how we will achieve true justice for Tessa and her loved ones."
Majors, 18, was a first-year student at Barnard, a women's college affiliated with Columbia University.
She was walking through Morningside Park early in the evening of Dec. 11 when three teenagers approached her, according to a criminal complaint. "Help me! I'm being robbed," she screamed as she struggled with them on an outdoor staircase landing in the park.
After being stabbed, she staggered up the stairs to the street level and collapsed in a crosswalk at Morningside Drive and West 116th Street, authorities said. Police officers found her in a pool of blood.
DNA from Majors' fingernail clippings linked Weaver to the crime, authorities said. Detectives also gathered accounts from eyewitnesses, video footage, blood evidence, iCloud evidence, and statements from the teens, the DA said.
"Detectives, investigators and prosecutors, as well as a grand jury, worked deliberately to ensure that the evidence amassed supported the charges brought, and that now those who allegedly murdered Tessa Majors will be held to account," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement. "Nothing can bring her back. That is the tragedy we all must live with."
The indictment charges Weaver with second-degree intentional murder, second-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, and second-degree robbery. Lewis is charged with second-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, and second-degree robbery. They both pleaded not guilty at their arraignments on Wednesday.
Under New York law, if a person dies during the commission of another felony—in this case, a robbery—a defendant can be charged with what is called felony murder.
A 13-year-old boy who was charged in December is being tried in family court.
With The Associated Press