14-year-old charged in fatal stabbing of Tessa Majors

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NEW YORK (AP) — A 14-year-old has been arrested in the December stabbing death of Barnard College student Tessa Majors, the 18-year-old great-niece of legendary Tennessee coach Johnny Majors, authorities said Saturday.

Rashaun Weaver has been indicted by a grand jury and was taken into custody Friday night without incident, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference.

Weaver, charged with second-degree murder and robbery, is the second teenager to be charged in the attack on Majors in a Manhattan park.

“We are confident that we have the person in custody who stabbed her,” Shea said. “And that person will face justice in a court of law.”

Weaver’s attorney, Elsie Chandler, did not immediately return a call to Neighbor Defender Service of Harlem seeking comment.

“He’s a 14-year-old child and he’s presumed not guilty,” Chandler told the New York Post after Weaver’s bail hearing Saturday, at which he was ordered held without bail at a juvenile facility until his arraignment Wednesday.

Majors was stabbed as she walked through Morningside Park early the evening of December 11. She staggered up a flight of stairs to street level and collapsed in a crosswalk.

A criminal complaint released Saturday described Majors as struggling on a landing with three people and screaming, “Help me! I’m being robbed!”

Weaver said Majors was “hanging onto her phone” when he tried to take it, according to the complaint.

Officials said they have evidence from videotapes, witness identification and DNA evidence from Major’s fingernail clippings linking Weaver to the crime. 

The attack, two days before the start of final exams at the women’s school, troubled city residents because of its proximity to campus and its apparent randomness. Barnard is part of the Ivy League’s Columbia University.

“This arrest is a major milestone on the path to justice for Tessa Majors,” said District Attorney Cy Vance.

A 13-year-old who was arrested December 13 and charged as a juvenile with felony murder told detectives he was at the park with other youths but wasn’t the one who stabbed Majors. 

Vance said his office and the police are “in active investigation in terms of other suspects, and that will continue.” 

Majors, of Charlottesville, Virginia, played in a rock band and had told an editor from a newspaper internship in high school that she planned to take journalism classes in college. Her father, Inman Majors, is an author of six novels and an English professor at James Madison University. He is also the nephew of famed Tennessee coach Johnny Majors.

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