Rodolfo Godinez, the first defendant to be convicted in the Newark schoolyard triple killings, faces life in prison when he is sentenced this morning in Superior Court in Newark.Godinez and his cohorts were likely engaging in an MS-13 gang initiation. Godinez shouldn't even have been in the US since he was an illegal alien. Among the others charged were illegal alien Jose Lachira Carranza who had been facing criminal charges, including the rape of a 5-year old and was out on $150,000 bail at the time of the triple murder.
In May, a jury convicted Godinez on all 17 counts against him including murder, felony murder, attempted murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and weapons charges for the Aug. 4, 2007, attack behind Mount Vernon School.
Prosecutors said Godinez, 26, and five others confronted the four friends that night armed with a gun and a machete. The jury deliberated for about three hours before reaching a verdict.
The victims, Iofemi Hightower and Dashon Harvey, both 20, and Terrance Aeriel, 18, were set upon, lined up against a wall and fatally shot, execution-style. Terrance's sister, Natasha, was also shot, but survived and testified for the prosecution.
Aeriel, now 22, is expected to give a victim impact statement before Godinez is sentenced, as is Shalga Hightower, Iofemi’s mother; James Harvey, Dashon’s father; and Troy Bradshaw, who is Terrance and Natasha’s father. Other relatives may also speak, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The five other defendants, Carranza, Melvin Jovel, Alexander Alfaro, Shahid Baskerville, and Gerardo Gomez are to be tried separately, with the first of these trials to begin in September.
He was sentenced to life without parole.