Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that Shahid Baskerville, 20, of Morristown pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy and one count of aggravated criminal sexual contact in connection with the Aug. 4, 2007 triple murder of three college students at the Mount Vernon School in Newark.
Under the terms of the plea agreement Baskerville faces 30 years in state prison when he is sentenced. Sentencing has been tentatively scheduled for March 8, 2012. Baskerville must serve 85 percent of his sentence or 25 years and six months before he is eligible for parole under the No Early Release Act. He will also be subject to lifetime supervision under Megan’s Law when he is released from prison.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss three counts of murder, three counts of felony murder and one county of attempted murder.
Appearing before the Honorable Michael L. Ravin, J.S.C., Baskerville described in detail his role that night. Iofemi Hightower, Dashon Harvey, both 20, and Terrence Aeriel, 18, all Delaware State students from Newark, were robbed and killed behind the Mount Vernon school playground. A third victim, Natasha Aeriel, was shot and attacked with a machete but survived.
Previously, defendants Rodolfo Godinez, 28, and his younger brother, Alexander Alfaro, 21, were found guilty at separate trials. A third defendant, Melvin Jovel, 22, of Elizabeth pleaded guilty. Jury selection was just completed in the case of defendant Jose Carranza, 32, of Newark. He is scheduled to go to trial in Jan. 10. A sixth defendant Gerardo Gomez, 19, of Newark is still awaiting trial. Assistant Prosecutors Thomas McTigue and Romesh Sukhdeo are handling all of the school yard cases.