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NEWARK -- An Essex County judge has ruled one of six men sentenced to lengthy prison terms in the brutal 2007 killings of three college-aged friends in a city schoolyard isn't eligible for a new trial, rejecting claims the man's lawyers failed him his first time before a jury and during the appeals process.
Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin's March 10 decision followed oral arguments in January regarding a post-conviction relief petition filed by Alexander Alfaro, who Ravin previously sentenced to 212 years in prison for his role in the murders of Iofemi Hightower, 20, Dashon Harvey, 20, and Terrance Aeriel, 18, behind the Mount Vernon School in Newark.
Ravin previously denied a similar petition by Rodolfo Godinez, one of five other men sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their roles in the attacks. Authorities said the men were members of Mara Salvatrucha, a violent street gang from El Salvador commonly known as MS-13.
Alfaro's petition argued his trial attorney, Raymond Morasse, erred in failing to secure a plea deal, not pushing for the removal of a juror who failed to disclose a criminal conviction and declining to call a witness who could have testified about the timing of an alleged gang tattoo he received, which prosecutors had argued was symbolic of the murders.
But in his written decision, Ravin wrote there was no evidence to "support petitioner's claim that witnesses could have provided exculpatory testimony" in Alfaro's defense.
"Likewise, there was no evidence to support the viability of a duress defense," the judge wrote. "There was no evidence that the state made any plea offers for trial counsel to communicate to (Alfaro)."
Even if the juror in question had been removed, Ravin wrote, the trial's outcome would not have been any different.
"These claims are without merit," he wrote.
Alfaro had similarly argued his lawyer during the appeals process, Michelle Adubato, should have challenged questions about the tattoo during the appeals process, and also that she should have asked the state Supreme Court to review whether a decision in a related appellate case could have been retroactively applied to his own.
But had Adubato raised the related decision in Alfaro's petition to the state Supreme Court, the judge said, there wasn't a "reasonable probability" it would have changed the outcome, as the high court had previously passed on two other opportunities to hear arguments regarding the decision's applicability to older cases.
Four of the other defendants in the murders -- Melvin Joel, Godinez, Jose Carranza and Gerardo Gomez -- received sentences ranging from 155 to 245 years in prison. Shahid Baskerville pleaded guilty to robbery charges and the sexual assault of a surviving victim, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Thomas Moriarty may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2017/ ... iver_index
when I first heard of this shooting years ago, I thought to myself it has to be some crazy Latino gang like 18th street or MS 13 that did that sh*t, because as bad as Newark is most of the time the Black gangs in New Jersey aint executing 4 people in one sitting like that, usually they just be airing sh*t out
Central Valley to the Bay, From LA the C-A......... is where we posted up, its like this every single dizzay.
yeah but will get on that type of sh*t but it usually happens if a n*gga did somethingOriginalEnglish wrote:when I first heard of this shooting years ago, I thought to myself it has to be some crazy Latino gang like 18th street or MS 13 that did that sh*t, because as bad as Newark is most of the time the Black gangs in New Jersey aint executing 4 people in one sitting like that, usually they just be airing sh*t out
after this happen tho ms13 had to leave essex county cause it was BIG Ks for that sh*t
this dude only living one his mans died in prison he went into pc and dropped his set