A 15-year-old boy was sentenced to 40 years in NJ State Prison for killing three people in December 2013.
The defendant shot and killed three teenagers last Christmas. One of the victims was shot while she and her brother carried trash bags from her family’s apartment in Newark, New Jersey.
According to law enforcement, one of the victims in the shooting was a boy who had apparently “disrespected” the suspect by hitting on his girlfriend.
The suspect, whose name was not released to the media because he is a minor, pleaded guilty earlier this year to fatally shooting the three victims, who were 13, 14, and 15 years old. The defendant also pleaded guilty to a weapons offense, which is related to another homicide that occurred in December 2013.
The defendant’s sentencing hearing was closed to the media because the defendant is a juvenile.
The judge in the case was limited in terms of the sentence he could hand down because prosecutors elected to try the defendant as a juvenile – a decision that drew criticism from a number of people, including the victims’ families.
Had the defendant been tried in adult court, he could have faced a potential life sentence for a homicide conviction. Instead, the defendant was sentenced to 40 years in prison after accepting a plea deal in juvenile court.
Additionally, the defendant’s sentence does not carry a minimum term. This means that he could be eligible for parole at any time. However, it is likely that the defendant will serve at least one-third of his sentence. In fact, according to Lauren Cohen, a professor at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, the defendant will probably end up serving much longer than that.
The victims’ families responded to the sentence by saying that it was not nearly long enough. The father of one of the victims said that the defendant should have received a life sentence.
The prosecutors in the case responded to the criticism by noting that a conviction in adult court may have been difficult to obtain.
For more information about this case, access the NJ.com article entitled “Victims’ Families Criticize 40-Year Prison Sentence for 15-Year-Old Boy in Christmas Day Triple Murder.”