The now 14-year-old boy, who CNN is not naming because he was not charged as an adult, appeared remotely when he entered his plea, telling the court about the December 2019 night he went into Morningside Park in Manhattan with two friends, Rashaun Weaver and Lucci Lewis.
“We went to the park planning to rob someone,” the boy said in a statement read in court. “After that, we saw Tessa Majors walking on the stairs inside the park. Rashaun went up to her and said something to her and Tessa yelled for help. Rashaun used the knife that I had handed to him to stab Tessa and I saw feathers coming out of her coat.”
The teen said in court that he, Weaver and Lewis ran out of the park together. Weaver and Lewis each face multiple murder and robbery charges. They were charged as adults and pleaded not guilty to those charges in February.
The teen who pleaded guilty Wednesday is still in custody at Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center and will be sentenced on June 15. He could face between six to 18 months in detention.
He was arrested a day after the December stabbing and was initially charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. He pleaded guilty to the first-degree robbery charge, the most serious offense that can be charged in family court, according to the New York City Law Department.
He is being represented by an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, which released a statement to CNN saying he will face repercussions likely for the rest of his life, but that this plea clears the path for him and his family to move forward.
“This plea to Robbery in the First Degree is consistent with our client’s limited role in this tragic event. He did not touch Ms. Majors or take any of her property. Furthermore, no DNA evidence exists linking him to the events,” Legal Aid’s statement said. “His acceptance of responsibility is an important first step; it provides an opportunity for this now 14-year-old to achieve a successful future.”
James E. Johnson, corporation counsel for the New York City Law Department, which is handling his case, said in a statement to CNN that the resolution was in the best interest of the community and the teen.
“The robbery and murder of Tessa Majors was a horrific crime. No family should have to endure such pain. We investigated the case involving (the teen) fairly based on the facts and with justice as our goal,” Johnson said in a statement. “This resolution is in the best interest of the community and for a youth who has had no prior contact with the juvenile justice system and was not the main actor in the murder.”
Prosecutors say Majors, 18, was stabbed several times while walking through Manhattan’s Morningside Park, which is next to Barnard College, where she was a freshman. Authorities say she staggered her way up a flight of stairs and was later found by a school security officer. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
CNN has reached out to her family for comment on Wednesday’s plea.
Rashaun Weaver is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree robbery. Luchiano “Lucci” Lewis is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree robbery and one count of second-degree robbery.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is handling their cases.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos previously said the day Majors was killed she appeared to be their third target.
Weaver, Lewis and the now 14-year-old boy, zeroed in and briefly followed two other people before passing Majors on a staircase and deciding on her, Bogdanos said in February.
The entire interaction from the moment Majors walked passed them, including the robbery and stabbing, took roughly a minute, the prosecutor said.
“This isn’t a spur of the moment, a few seconds attack. It was a sustained attack, sustained in both space and time,” Bogdanos said.
CNN reached out to attorneys representing Weaver after the plea was announced Wednesday. In February, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, whose attorneys represent Weaver, urged all involved not to rush to judgment about their client.
“Tessa Majors’ death is a tragedy and we send our condolences to her family, friends and community,” the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem said, according to spokesman Sam McCann. “Our client is a 14-year-old child with no criminal record or family court history. He should not be charged as an adult. “In our shared history, we have seen too often the impact of hasty condemnations of children. Let us take these past experiences as a warning and allow due process to play out in our young client’s case, so that justice can prevail.”
Alexis Padilla, an attorney for Lewis, declined to comment to CNN on Wednesday.
Barnard is an all-women’s school with around 2,600 students. The campus stretches from West 116th Street to West 120th Street off Broadway in Morningside Heights.
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