NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The families of three college-bound friends murdered in a Newark schoolyard in 2007 reached a $5 million settlement with the city’s schools and the state on Tuesday, closing the book on a case that attracted national publicity and spurred anti-crime reforms in New Jersey’s largest city.
The settlement came several weeks into a civil trial in which a survivor of the brutal attack testified. The trial was the fifth connected to the case _ four defendants were convicted by juries and two others pleaded guilty. Their combined sentences total more than 1,000 years.
“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” said Ronald Riccio, an attorney for the families. “The settlement brings closure for the families and sole survivor in their pursuit for justice. They’ve gone through six criminal cases and now the civil case, and it’s time for them to get on with their lives.”
The families claimed the school district should have locked the gates to the graffiti-scarred Mount Vernon School playground because it was a known gang hangout. The state was named as a defendant because it has oversight of the Newark schools.
The three friends _ Iofemi Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance Aeriel _ were enrolled or planning to enroll at Delaware State University. The survivor also attended Delaware State, recovering from being shot and stabbed to earn an undergraduate degree.
The survivor isn’t being named by The Associated Press because of sexual assault charges against two of the defendants.
The four victims drove into the schoolyard on the night of Aug. 4, 2007, and were drinking sodas and listening to music when they were surrounded by six men and boys and robbed at gunpoint. Three were made to walk down a flight of stairs where they were shot in the head as they knelt against a wall. One of the victims was slashed repeatedly in the head with a machete before being shot.
In criminal trial testimony and statements to police by the defendants, it emerged that all six had ties to the MS-13 street gang.
Outrage over the murders engulfed Newark in the ensuing weeks and spurred efforts to install surveillance cameras in dangerous neighborhoods, change bail rules for illegal immigrants and institute penalties for gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen weapons, among other measures.
The announcement of the settlement Tuesday apparently isn’t the end of legal wrangling in the case. New Jersey’s attorney general’s office has filed suit against an insurance company for refusing to cover the state’s share of the settlement, which the attorney general’s office said is $3 million. The office wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit Tuesday, and an attorney for Star Insurance of North Brunswick didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
The Newark school district didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday’s settlement. Through a spokeswoman, the state department of education declined comment.
As part of the settlement, neither the state nor the school district admitted liability.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon