Tessa Majors

A photograph of a young woman

Name: Tessa Rane Majors

Tessa Majors: Teens plead not guilty in fatal stabbing - CNN

Crime date: December 11, 2019

Alleged murderers: Two 14-year-old males have been indicted by grand juries. Zyairr Davis, 13, has confessed to his involvement and plead guilty to robbery.

Location: New York City

Victim

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Tessa “Tess” was born on May 11, 2001. She graduated from St. Anne’s-Belfield School in 2019 and attended Barnard college in New York City. Tess loved music and played bass and sang in a band called Patient 0. She also ran cross-country and volunteered on political campaigns. She was also interested in writing. During high school she led the school’s creative writing club and interned at the Augusta Free Press. She planned on studying journalism.

Summary of the crime

Three juveniles allegedly stabbed Tess to death during an attempted robbery in Morning side Park.

Details

As Tess walked through Morningside Park, she was allegedly confronted by three juveniles. The youth had allegedly committed several other robberies prior to attacking Tess. According to the Davis’s confession, the older suspects grabbed Tess, put her in a choke-hold and stole from her pockets. Witnesses heard her scream, “Help me! I’m being robbed!”According to investigators, Tess bit Weaver to defend herself. Police believe that he began stabbing her after the defensive bite. Tess was stabbed in the chest several times, including once in the heart.

According to the Davis’s confession, after stabbing Tess, the attackers rifled through her pockets and fled. Tess, who was bleeding heavily, made her way up a stair case. She collapsed at the corner of 16th Street and Morningside Drive. Tess, now unconscious, was found and taken to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Davis was arrested shortly after Tess’s murder and confessed to taking part in the crime. The other two suspects were arrested in 2020. Both have been indicted by grand juries and charged as adults with murder and robbery. DNA belonging to one 14-year-old suspect was found under Tess’s fingernails, indicating that she scratched him to defend herself.

In June 2020, Davis plead guilty to robbery in family court. He was sentenced on June 15 to spend 18 months in a detention facility.

Here is some of the victim impact statement from Tessa’s parents read at Davis’s sentencing.

“There are no words. We dropped her off at Barnard College at the beginning of her freshman year…100 days later [we] brought her home in an urn.”

The Majors also criticized the plea deal that allowed the violent teen to get a light sentence. They also wrote that the robber “has shown a complete lack of remorse or contrition for his role in the murder of Tess Majors. By his own admission, the respondent picked up a knife that had fallen to the ground and handed it to an individual who then used it to stab Tess Majors to death.” The Majors’s “can’t help but wonder what would have happened if that knife had been left on the ground.”

The Majors’s explained that their grief at her sudden loss was exacerbated by “the incredibly violent nature of her death, which has been described in grisly detail.” They further said: “The Majors family has experienced their first Christmas without her, a holiday that will be forever tainted by sharing the month of her murder…Her absence is palpable and unrelenting.”

The Majors also criticized the language used in the perpetrator’s plea deal for avoiding the word “murder” and the defense team for downplaying Davis’s role saying, “some might wonder if Tess Majors was involved in an accident. Tess Majors did not die in an accident. Tess Majors was murdered. Plain and simple, and no amount of semantic gymnastics changes that fact.”

It should also be noted that Davis’s defense attorneys said that his actions “reflects a teenager, not some monster.” Violent robberies are not “teenage actions.” Most teenagers don’t run around robbing and attacking people. The crimes he did commit reflect cruelty, not youth.

Read the full victim impact statement

“There are no words adequate to describe the pain and suffering that the family of Tess Majors has endured since her death by murder.

“On Labor Day weekend 2019, the parents of Tess Majors dropped her off at Barnard College in New York City to begin her freshman year of college. One hundred days later, they brought her home to Virginia in an urn.

“What words could be used to describe that grief? Compounding the sudden loss of their talented, kind, and beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, cousin, and niece is the incredibly violent nature of her death, which has been described in grisly detail by the respondent himself. 

“The family can, however, articulate how these hearings have amplified their pain.  On December 12th, the day after Tess Majors was murdered in Morningside Park, the respondent confessed to his role in her slaying.  Six months later, in his plea deal, the respondent has confessed to telling the truth in December.  The Majors family wonders what these hearings have been about. 

“The family notes the negotiated parsing of language of the plea deal which studiously avoids use of the word “murder.”  They note as well the language used by the Legal Aid Society in their press release regarding the plea deal, which states that “Tess Majors’s death was tragic.” Reading this description of events, some might wonder if perhaps Tess Majors was involved in an accident.   Tess Majors did not die in an accident.  Tess Majors was murdered, plain and simple, and no amount of semantic gymnastics changes that fact.

“The family also notes that–from December 12th until this day–the respondent has shown a complete lack of remorse or contrition for his role in the murder of Tess Majors. By his own admission, the respondent picked up a knife that had fallen to the ground and handed it to an individual who then used it to stab Tess Majors to death.

“The family can’t help but wonder what would have happened if that knife had been left on the ground.

“The family of Tess Majors was also impacted by the statement put out by the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, which claimed that the respondent was “not the main actor in the murder.”  As far as the family is concerned, there are no minor actors in the murder of Tess Majors.  The Corporation Counsel’s statement also states that this plea deal resolution is “in the best interest of the community.” The Majors family wonders how many in the community—any community, including the many Tess was a part of and the ones that her family members continue to be a part of–would agree with this assessment. 

“Tess would have turned 19 on May 11th.  That day has come and gone without her.  The Majors family has experienced their first Christmas without her, a holiday that will be forever tainted by sharing the month of her murder.  The first Mother’s Day without her has come and gone, the first Father’s Day without her will be this Sunday.  The Majors family wakes up thinking about her and goes to bed thinking about her.  Her absence is palpable and unrelenting.”

Written by an NOVJM volunteer.

Sources

https://time.com/5750299/tessa-majors-stabbing-barnard/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/12/13/year-old-arrested-connection-with-barnard-college-stabbing-case/

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/tessa-majors-murder-morningside-park.html

https://nypost.com/2019/12/27/suspect-may-have-killed-tessa-majors-because-she-bit-his-finger-police-sources/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tessa-majors-hearing-reveals-new-details-in-case-of-murdered-student-2019-12-17/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/15/tessa-majors-stabbing-14-year-old-arrested-nyc-police-say/4771252002/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/barnard-student-tessa-majors-death-leads-murder-charge-against-14-n1137396

https://www.columbiaspectator.com/news/2020/02/15/following-two-month-investigation-14-year-old-suspect-charged-in-death-of-tessa-majors/

https://nypost.com/2020/02/19/third-suspect-arrested-in-killing-of-barnard-student-tessa-majors/

https://abcnews.go.com/US/13-year-plead-guilty-connection-tessa-majors/story?id=71043374

https://nypost.com/2020/06/15/tessa-majors-parents-blast-one-of-her-assailants-for-lack-of-remorse/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/13-year-old-sentenced-18-months-role-robbery-murder-barnard-n1231125