The first defendant convicted in the gruesome 2007 execution-style slayings of three Newark college friends—and attacking and sexually assaulting a fourth, who survived—was sentenced Thursday to three consecutive life terms in prison plus 20 years. The 245-year-sentence means Rodolfo Godinez must serve at least 218 years for his convictions on murder, felony murder, robbery and weapons charges.
Terrance Aeriel, Iofemi Hightower and Dashon Harvey were killed August 4, 2007 when they were shot execution style. Aeriel's sister was shot and sexually assaulted but survived. Harvey and Hightower were openly gay. The friends "planned to drive together "to New York City the next morning to attend a black Gay Pride event. Hightower, a lesbian, was also sexually assaulted. All four victims were enrolled or about to be enrolled at Delaware State University.
Godinez is the first of three adults and three teens to be tried for the violent gang initiation. In 2007, Rod 2.0 reported one of the teen suspects attended high school with one of the gay victims—and this may have been among the reasons the victims were targeted. Prosecutors declined to file hate crime charges because the victims' families "did not want" the deceased identified as gay.
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