National News

Teen sentenced to maximum for killing of Barnard student Tessa Majors, parents speak on their grief

Courtesy of Conrad MacKethan

(NEW YORK) -- Luchiano Lewis was sentenced Thursday to the maximum of nine years to life in prison for his role in the murder of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors.

Majors, 18, was stabbed to death on Dec. 11, 2019, in upper Manhattan's Morningside Park, just off the campus of Columbia University.

Lewis, who was 14 at the time and charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree robbery last month.

The two other teens arrested in connection to the slaying were 16-year-old Rashaun Weaver, who has pleaded not guilty, and a 13-year-old juvenile who pleaded guilty and is serving his sentence.

Lewis said the three middle school friends plotted to rob people in the park and pinned the idea on Weaver. Prosecutors said Weaver wielded the knife.

In the last moments of her life, a security camera caught Majors trudging up a flight of steps in the park, dripping blood and struggling to breathe. As she reached the street she collapsed against a lamppost and died minutes later of stab wounds.

Majors' father, Inman Majors, briefly exited the courtroom Thursday while the video of his daughter’s final moments was played.

As the prosecutor read a family statement, Inman Majors sobbed audibly.

"We still find words inadequate to describe the immeasurable pain, trauma, and suffering that our family has endured since her senseless murder," Majors' parents wrote in a statement.

"Tess was a brilliant student, a voracious reader, a poet and a fledgling journalist. She had big dreams. She loved everything about music. ... She loved meeting new people with different ideas and beliefs than her own," her parents said. "But mostly she loved her family and friends, her cats, and especially her younger brother. Her family misses her every moment of every day."

"Our hearts ache as we watch Tess’s friends return to school, perform concerts, start new jobs, and experience all the things that our daughter never will," they continued. "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. 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."

Lewis, now 16, apologized and said he felt ashamed, embarrassed and "sad in the role I played in destroying two families."

When Lewis told Majors' father "I’m deeply sorry for your loss," he wept and covered his eyes with his hand.

Lewis broke down as he apologized to his father, who was seated alone in the courtroom. "Dad, I’m sorry I failed you," Lewis said.

Judge Robert Mandelbaum appeared skeptical of Lewis’ sincerity, saying "sadly and troublingly the defendant has learned no lessons."

The judge noted the “multiple violent acts” Lewis has been involved in while incarcerated, including the beating of another inmate with a piece of metal wrapped in a sock.

Mandelbaum said in handing down the sentence, "The defendant was and is extremely young. He has his whole life ahead of him but Tessa Majors does not."

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