Tessa Majors was stabbed to death on December 11, allegedly by three teenagers, but only one has been charged and he says he was 10ft away as the attack took place
The lawyer for the 13-year-old suspect in the Tessa Majors murder has criticized the NYPD for allegedly questioning him without an attorney present.
Hannah Kaplan of The Legal Aid Society is representing the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, against a felony murder charge.
He admits being in Morningside Park at around 7pm on December 11 when Tessa was stabbed to death but says he did not take part in stabbing her. The boy told police that he was 10ft away as two other, older boys, brutally attacked her.
She was stabbed multiple times in the torso and slashed across the face. The 18-year-old was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The judge said that he should still be charged with murder because of his knowledge of and proximity to the crime at a probably cause hearing earlier this week.
At the same hearing, NYPD Detective Wilfred Acevedo recounted what the 13-year-old apparently told him during a police interview; that he and two 14-year-olds were in the park to rob people.
They were making their way up the steps when they encountered Tessa. One of the 14-year-old’s grabbed her from behind while the other tried to rob her. Then, when she refused, the second 14-year-old stabbed her, he said.
The 13-year-old was watching from 10ft away but all three ran out of the park.
But Kaplan says the younger boy’s confession was led by detective who yelled at him. She said he did not know that the other boys ever intended to even rob Tessa and that he told police as much 10 times during his interview.
She also told the court that while the boy’s uncle – who is his legal guardian following the death of his mother – was present for the interview but that an attorney was not.
In a statement released after the hearing, The Legal Aid Society said Tessa’s murder was a ‘terrible tragedy’ but that the boy should not be put on trial in the court of public opinion.
‘We are absolutely troubled by the fact that our client was questioned and interrogated by police without an attorney present.
Tessa was stabbed at the bottom of these steps on December 11. The 13-year-old boy says he was standing 10ft away and that two older boys attacked her. His lawyer says he had no way of knowing what they would do
The NYPD still has not found a 14-year-old boy who bolted from his guardian’s car as he was being driven to face questions on Sunday night. Cops are pictured in the park where the attack took place
‘We must ensure that our client’s constitutional rights are not violated
‘Our client is a 13-year-old child who is presumed innocent with no juvenile record.
‘History is full of examples of high profile cases tried in the media, rushing law enforcement to a wrongful arrest and conviction,’ the statement said.
December 11: Tessa is attacked in Morningside Park. Police originally said the call came in at 5.36pm. They later said it was closer to 6.50pm
She is pronounced dead at the hospital
December 12: Police question two underage boys and search for a third. Those two boys are later cleared and let go.
The 13-year-old boy is arrested for murder.
Bill de Blasio promises swift justice.
December 13: A 14-year-old is taken into custody.
The 13-year-old boy is charged.
December 14: The charges against the 14-year-old are dropped and he is let go.
December 15: Ed Mullins, the President of the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association, says Tessa was in the park buying marijuana. He is slammed by Bill de Blasio.
At 4pm, a 14-year-old boy bolts from a car as he is driven – by a ‘lawyer or relative’ to speak to police
December 16: Tessa’s family slam Mullins’ remarks
December 17: 13-year-old’s probable cause hearing
The 14-year-old remains on the run. The third alleged suspect remains free.
Police are still looking for one of the 14-year-old suspects who bolted from a car as he was driven to the police station by a relative or lawyer, supposedly to answer questions on the murder, on Sunday at 4pm.
The NYPD is refusing to comment on its search for him.
A third teenager was taken into custody over the weekend but he was let go without being charged after refusing to answer questions.
He had both his mother and a lawyer present for the interview, according to The New York Times. He invoked his right to remain silent and was let go.
When the 13-year-old boy was first taken into custody, his relatives were incredulous.
His aunt said she felt sympathy for Tessa and her family but that her nephew would never have carried out such violence.
The entire handling of the case and the incident itself has been widely criticized.
Officially, the NYPD has said very little of it.
There was an immediate response from Mayor Bill de Blasio after Tessa’s murder. He admonished the crime and said he felt confident the perpetrators would be brought to justice swiftly.
However many – including people within the police force – are blaming him for the crime.
Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, was slammed for claiming publicly that Tessa might have been in the park buying marijuana when she was attacked.
He has since apologized and said the point he was trying to make was that de Blasio’s famously soft touch on crime, and specifically drugs, has plunged the city back into increased danger.
Tessa’s family, who have traveled from Virginia to New York, slammed Mullins for sharing the marijuana theory without evidence.
They say they are only interested in knowing what happened to her.
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Tessa at Barnard College, where she was a freshman, and beyond