In the first trial stemming from the shootings of four college-age friends in a Newark schoolyard nearly three years ago, a jury on Monday returned guilty verdicts for three murders and one attempted murder after less than a day of deliberations.
The jury in State Superior Court here convicted Rodolfo Godinez, a 26-year-old gang member and native of Nicaragua, of all the charges facing him, including multiple counts of robbery, weapons charges and conspiracy. Each murder count carries a minimum penalty of 30 years to life in prison, and the sentences can be given consecutively.
“This man will never see the light of day,” said Robert D. Laurino, the acting Essex County prosecutor.
As the jury foreman, a slender, middle-aged man, read out the verdicts, several of the victims’ family members clutched each other, as some nearby wept silently. Shalga Hightower, the mother of one of the murder victims, Iofemi Hightower, shook visibly throughout the proceeding.
James Harvey, the father of another victim, Dashon Harvey, said afterwards: “It’s truly a blessing from God. It’s to send a message to youth — ‘Do you really want to join a gang? This is what comes of it.’
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