NYPD detective Tuesday testified at a probable cause hearing and shared the account of the 13-year-old boy arrested for Tessa Majors’ murder
Zyairr Davis told police he and two 14-year-olds went to the park intent on robbing random persons when the fixed on Tessa Majors
The 13-year-old is not accused of stabbing Majors, but a judge ruled that there is probable cause to proceed with felony murder and robbery charges against him
Video footage from security cameras shows that the 13-year-old wasn’t involved in the stabbing itself
He claimed he handed a dropped knife to the teens but didn’t use it
Judge Carol Goldstein ordered him detained at least through the end of the year
Police have now identified all three teenage male suspects in the Tessa majors murder
The 13-year-old remains in custody, one 14-year-old was questioned and released without charges, while police continue the hunt for a second 14-year-old who allegedly fled from the car Monday night, on his way to a police interview
The 13-year-old suspect in the Tessa Majors murder claims he did not take part in her killing and that he was standing ten feet away when it happened.
The boy did not speak at a probable cause hearing in a Manhattan family court room on Tuesday, but NYPD Detective Wilfredo Acevedo recounted what he’d told police in his confession.
He said Zyairr Davis was accompanied by two older, 14-year-old boys, when they attacked Tessa on December 11 in Morningside Park.
The youths first thought about mugging a man, then set their sights on Tessa.
In the attack the 13-year-old boy claimed he picked up the red-handled knife that another one of the youths dropped and handed it to one of them.
Then they approached Majors and announced they were robbing her, but she refused to hand over her property, the boy said to Acevedo.
The 13-year-old Davis said he was standing about 10 feet away and saw the stabbing unfold. However, the judge at yesterday’s probably cause hearing said, because he was so close to the incident and had facilitated it, he should be charged with murder too.
Police are still looking for a 14-year-old who jumped out and fled from his relative or lawyer’s vehicle car as he was being driven to an interview with detectives on Sunday at 4pm. Police believe the 14-year-old may have signs of a bite mark from the struggle with Majors.
A third 14-year-old, who also apparently took part in the attack, has not been charged.
He was named by the teenage suspect who was boy was accompanied in court by his aunt and uncle, his legal guardians following the death of his mother.
He yawned at times during the proceedings.
He was arrested last week, the day after Tessa’s death, on trespassing charges but started talking about the murder.
During the scuffle, Majors fought back and yelled for help. She bit one boy’s finger, another officer said last week.
One of the boys who was holding the knife then stabbed her in the torso and slashed her in the face. As the stabbing took place, feathers from her jacket burst from the coat and fluttered onto the ground. After the robbery the boys fled.
At Tuesday’s probably cause hearing investigators said they have grainy video footage that shows a scuffle at the bottom of the steps at the park where Majors was attacked.
The footage shows a person ‘making poking motions toward the victim’, Det. Acevedo said.
That footage provides a view of the robbery from a southeast angle and does not show the 13-year-old touching the victim or taking anything from her.
A police officer responding to a radio call for a robbery in progress said she found Majors lying face down in the street. NYPD oficer Ena Lewis testified that Majors was wheezing for breath and had lacerations on her face and stab wounds to her body. Majors was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Although Police have now identified all three suspects in the Tessa majors murder – A 13-year-old, the wanted 14-year-old who allegedly fled from the car Monday night, and a 14-year-old who was questioned and released without charges.
At the moment the case rests on the confession of the 13-year-old boy and videos of the three teens entering and leaving the park.
The 13-year-old is not accused of stabbing Majors, but a judge ruled that there is probable cause to proceed with felony murder and robbery charges against him for complicity.
The boy’s aunt and uncle appeared in court on Tuesday when Judge Carol Goldstein ordered him detained at least through the end of the year. Another hearing is scheduled for January 2.
If convicted he could be sent to a detention facility until he is 21.
‘The court finds there is a serious risk for re-offending,’ Goldstein said, rebuffing arguments from the boy’s lawyer that he has a strong support system with his aunt and uncle at home, good school attendance and no behavioral problems.
Majors’ death has troubled city and college leaders for its proximity to campus, its unusual nature, and the young age of the suspects.
During the hearing in Family Court public defender Hannah Kaplan cast doubt on the reliability of the boy’s statement suggesting detectives may have pressured him and blasted police for questioning him without having a lawyer present.
The suspects uncle Roosevelt Davis [left], and his aunt Shaquoya Carr, [right], were in court for Tuesday’s probably cause hearing where the judge ruled that because the teen was so close to and had facilitated the incident, he should be charged with murder too
The organization representing the boy, the Legal Aid Society, cautioned ‘against any rush to judgment that would only cause additional harm to the Harlem and Barnard communities.’
‘Our client is a 13-year-old child who is presumed innocent with no juvenile record,’ the Legal Aid Society said in a statement. ‘History is full of examples of high profile cases tried in the media, rushing law enforcement to a wrongful arrest and conviction.’
As Kaplan questioned Det. Acevedo she pointed out that the 13-year-old told officers repeatedly in his interview that the did not know his friends were going to rob Majors.
‘He told you it about 10 times, is that correct?’ she asked. That is correct,’ the detective replied.
Majors, an 18-year-old from Charlottesville, Virginia, was a freshman at Barnard College. She played in a rock band in New York, had green hair, and aspired to take journalism classes in college.
She was stabbed while walking in the park just before 7pm, two days before the start of final exams at Barnard.
NYPD was able to track the three boys to their residences using video from the scene.
At those residences officers recovered knives, but it’s not clear if those blades were used as the murder weapon. A folding knife with a four-inch blade were also found in the park and are currently being tested for DNA and fingerprints.
Police are still hunting for the second 14-year-old suspect, who cops believe is the one who launched the stabbing. That teen was on his way to meet with detectives on Monday but jumped out of the car, launched a massive manhunt in Harlem.
The hearing on Tuesday was to determine if there was enough evidence to allow the case to go forward, a step in Family Court procedure for juveniles akin to a grand jury hearing.
Arguing for a dismissal, the defense is claiming the 13-year-old was not involved in the stabbing or in possession of any weapon nor had a criminal record.
The prosecution noted that the boy told investigators that the group’s intent was robbery. The boy had picked up a knife his friend dropped, and returned it to him ‘with the understanding the knife would be used in the course of a robbery’.
Judge Goldstein ruled there was enough evidence to proceed with prosecution as a ‘juvenile delinquent’ in Family Court as he’s facing a charge of felony murder.
She said the boy’s statements to the police showed that ‘he intended to commit a robbery’ and noted that the boy had picked up ‘the knife that was ultimately used to stab the victim.’
If he is found guilty in Family Court, the teenager faces up to 18 months in a juvenile facility or up to five years in a restricted placement facility.