New developments in the tragic August 2007 case of four black college students shot execution style in Newark, New Jersey. The Washington Blade reports another suspect is charged win connection with the crime, there is new evidence to suggest at least one victim was sexually assaulted, and, all of the victims planned to attend a gay Pride festival on the day after their tragic death. The new evidence bolsters claims by gay activists that the "robbery" homicide was a hate crime.
The Essex County, N.J., prosecutor’s office charged Shahid Baskerville, 16, with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated sexual assault, and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, among other charges, in a crime that shocked the Newark community and attracted international media attention.
Paul Loriquet, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office, said the victim of the sexual assault was a female but declined to disclose whether she was the female student who died or the one who survived the attack. Loriquet said the sexual assault, allegedly committed by Baskerville, involved “sexual penetration during a robbery and sexual penetration while armed.” He was also charged with one count of unlawful possession of a weapon – a machete.
This makes the seventh male suspects to faced charges in connection with the shocking crime. One man is an undocumented Peruvian national, and, four of the suspects are juvenilles.
As previously reported on Rod 2.0, three of the students, two men and one woman, died at the scene. A fourth student, a woman, was also shot in the head and left for dead, but managed to survive and is cooperating with the authorities. After the brutal slayings of the Delaware State University students, friends said at least one of the victims, Dashon Harvey, 20, was openly gay. The other victims, Terrance "TJ" Aeriel, 18, and Iofemi Hightower, 20, were closed friends and Hightower was described as "tomboyish." "Some of the kids who hung with that clique were gay, some weren't, but it was widely known as 'the gay clique'", one person said.
Last year, gay activists criticized the Newark Police Department and Mayor Corey Booker, who said the "sole motive" behind the execution killings appeared to robbery, and, there was no anti-gay hate crime. Activists say they are outraged to hear there was a sexual assault involved in the case, because lesbians are often targeted for rape.
"We have been talking to the mayor's office and the police for months, asking them to keep us abreast of what is going on and whether any of this involves a hate crime," Laquetta Nelson of Newark Pride Alliance told the Blade. "Now we find out about this, and they didn't give us the respect and courtesy of calling us."