Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today the Honorable Michael L. Ravin, Judge of the Superior Court, sentenced Alexander Alfaro, 20, of Newark to 212 years in New Jersey state prison.
“The sentencing of defendant Alfaro is an important milestone in bringing this case to a just conclusion. We look forward to meeting our ultimate goal which is the successful prosecution and conviction of all six defendants who participated in the events of that terrible night,’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray.
On April 5, Alfaro was convicted of 16 of 17 counts, including three counts of murder, for the August 4, 2007 triple murder of three Delaware State University students. He was found not guilty of the attempted murder of a fourth student. The survivor, Natasha Aeriel, was shot but not cut with the machete. Iofemi Hightower was shot execution-style like the male victims but was slashed with the machete by Alfaro before being shot.
Alfaro and five others attacked the college students while they were hanging out on the playground of Mount Vernon School in Newark. Victims Iofemi Hightower, Dashon Harvey, both 20, and Terrance Aeriel, 18, were lined up and shot in the back of the head after being robbed. Their injuries were fatal. A fourth victim was shot, but lived and was able to testify at the two trials.
“This was the toughest one yet,” said Assistant Prosecutor Thomas McTigue.
Alfaro is the second defendant to be tried. He took the witness stand and admitted bringing the machete to the playground. He also admitted being a member of MS-13, a notorious Central American street gang.
His half brother, Rodolfo Godinez, 27, of Newark was convicted by an Essex County jury in May of 2010 and was sentenced on July 8, 2010. Melvin Jovel, 21, of Elizabeth was sentenced on November 4, 2010 after entering a guilty plea. Jovel and Godinez were both sentenced to more than 200 years in state prison.
Three other defendants are awaiting trial – Jose Carranza, 32, of Newark, Shahid Baskerville, 19, of Morristown, and Gerardo Gomez, 18, of Newark. Gomez is Alfaro’s cousin.
All defendants awaiting trial are presumed innocent unless and until they plead guilty or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.