- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty in a notorious triple murder in a Newark schoolyard lost his bid to have the state’s highest court hear his appeal of his 3-decade sentence.

The Supreme Court revealed Wednesday that it won’t consider Shahid Baskerville’s argument that his sentence was excessive and that his case should have been tried in juvenile court.

Baskerville was 15 in August 2007 when he and five other men and boys attacked four college-bound friends in Newark’s Mount Vernon School playground.

Three of the victims were robbed and then lined up against a wall and shot in the back of the head; one was slashed multiple times with a machete. A fourth victim was sexually assaulted, shot and stabbed but survived and testified against her attackers.

According to statements to authorities and trial testimony, Baskerville wasn’t the one who shot Dashon Harvey, Terrance “T.J.” Aeriel and Iofemi Hightower.

In exchange for murder and felony murder charges being dropped, Baskerville pleaded guilty to robbery, conspiracy and aggravated sexual contact and received a 30-year sentence. He also agreed to cooperate against the other defendants. In all, four of the six were convicted at trial and two, including Baskerville, pleaded guilty.

The five aside from Baskerville are each serving multiple life sentences.

In his appeal, Baskerville argued that testimony from his grandfather and letters from other relatives about his character were sufficient to keep his case from being moved to adult court.

But an appeals court rejected his claim and said Baskerville failed to demonstrate that he could be successfully rehabilitated by the time he turned 19. It also noted Baskerville didn’t present any expert witnesses on his behalf.

The appeals court also disagreed with Baskerville’s claim that the trial judge improperly weighed mitigating and aggravating factors in ordering that sentences on two of the robbery counts be served consecutively.

The outcry following the killings made national headlines and fast-tracked numerous anti-crime measures in Newark including surveillance cameras and gunshot detection systems.


This story has been corrected to show Baskerville was not the only defendant to plead guilty.



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