NEWARK – A 21-year-old suspect admitted pulling the trigger to kill three Newark teens in a 2007 schoolyard shooting that received national attention.
Melvin Jovel, who lived in Elizabeth at the time of the killings but grew up in Newark, pleaded guilty days before his murder trial was scheduled to begin.
Jovel told the court how he lined Iofemi Hightower, Terrance Aeriel and Dashon Harvey up against a wall and shot them in the head. He then said that he shot Natasha Aeriel as she begged for mercy.
Of the four victims, only Natasha Aeriel survived. They were all attending or planning to attend Delaware State University.
Jovel faces up to 214 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 4 for the three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and related weapons charges. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped conspiracy, robbery and additional weapons charges.
Earlier this year, another suspect in the case, Rodolfo Godinez, 27, was sentenced to 243 years in prison after being convicted of murder, attempted murder and related charges.
Four other suspects are awaiting trial: Jose Carranza, 31, Shahid Baskerville, 18, Gerardo Gomez, 18, and Alexander Alfaro, 19. Prosecutors believe that the shootings are gang-related and say that the six defendants all have ties to a violent Central American street gang known as MS-13.
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