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Jose Larchire CARRANZA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: August 5, 2007
Date of arrest: 4 days after (surrenders)
Date of birth: March 26, 1979
Victims profile: Terrance Aeriel, 18, Dashon Harvey, 20, and Iofemi Hightower, 20
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Newark, New Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to 8 years in prison on May 12, 2008. Sentenced to 7 years in prison on April 13, 2010
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Newark schoolyard slayings suspect sentenced to 8 years in unrelated brawl

Nj.com

May 12, 2008

A Peruvian national who is charged in the slayings of three college students in a Newark schoolyard was sentenced to eight years in prison today for an unrelated bar brawl in West Orange.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Cassini took the unusual step of sentencing Jose Lachira Carranza to consecutive four-year sentences for each of the two victims hit over the head with beer bottles in the October 2006 fracas at Huguito's restaurant.

The result was a heavier penalty than usually meted out in Essex County for the crime of third-degree aggravated assault, which Cassini said was justified by the facts in the case and Carranza's lack of remorse.

"He has not shown remorse whatsoever in this," Cassini said. "There is no hint of an apology."

Naazneen Khan, the assistant Essex County prosecutor who handled the case, asked for the stiff sentence based on what she described as Carranza's violent nature.

"This defendant is dangerous, he is violent, the citizens of Essex County deserve to be protected from him," Khan said.

The sentencing came after the 28-year-old defendant declared in court that he would not longer cooperate with his attorney, Felix Lopez-Montalvo.

Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, he told Cassini he wanted a new attorney to handle the appeal of the assault conviction and his defense in two pending cases - the schoolyard homicides and an unrelated sex assault charge.

 
 

Free to kill

Illegal-Alien Newark Fiend on Bail - Twice

By Austin Fenner, Jeane MacIntosh and Eric Lenkowitz

August 11, 2007

He shouldn't have been free.

New Jersey authorities twice allowed a suspected child rapist to slip out of custody with minimal bail without reporting his illegal immigrant status to the feds - leaving him free to allegedly massacre three college students in a Newark schoolyard.

"This is one that slipped through the cracks. He's an illegal alien," said outraged dad James Harvey, whose son Dashon was murdered last Saturday, along with Terrance Aeriel and Iofemi Hightower.

While 28-year-old day laborer Jose Larchire Carranza was behind bars yesterday, prosecutors arrested a third suspect, who is 15 years old, in Morristown, and charged him with felony murder.

Another 15-year-old has also been charged.

Harvey said that Carranza, the alleged ringleader, "should never have been out in the first place."

"He's got child abuse charges. He's got a weapon. It's an outrage to the justice system and the community that he's out."

At a press conference at the scene of the crime last night, Newark Mayor Cory Booker echoed that sentiment.

"You can obviously say that the system is not working," said Booker. "We have a problem."

He also said there still seemed to be no motive in the triple slay.

"That is the chilling part. This is a pure manifestation of evil action," said Booker.

Carranza, who arrived in New Jersey from Peru in 1991, was first arrested last October after a bar fight in West Orange, where he and two others used bottles and chairs to cause "significant bodily injuries" to one of the four victims, court papers say.

He was charged with felony aggravated assault. A municipal court judge set Carranza's bail at $50,000. It was later reduced to $20,000. He posted 10 percent and walked free.

That allowed Carranza to return to what prosecutors said was four years of sexual torment he inflicted on a child that began in 2003 when she was just 5.

Orange police arrested Carranza again in January, and Judge John Kennedy set the initial bail at $150,000, which he posted by bond.

He was re-arrested a month later in Newark on the same sex charges and a second bail was set at $300,000, a court official said.

But Essex County Judge Thomas Vena agreed to consolidate the charges, and allowed Carranza to go free based on the bond he posted in the original case.

"Essex County prosecutors never consented to lowering the bail or consolidating the bail," a spokesman said.

Months later, an Essex County grand jury indicted him on 31 counts on those allegations of child rape.

Still free, prosecutors said that last Saturday Carranza and at least two others forced four victims at a Newark schoolyard to their knees and shot them all in the head execution-style, killing three.

"He should have been off the street," Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura.

But the Essex County Prosecutor's Office never alerted the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Carranza was an illegal alien and out on the streets, as recommended by federal guidelines.

After being led into court in shackles yesterday under the penetrating glare of his victims' relatives, Carranza pleaded not guilty before Judge Michael Casale. The $1 million bail, which prosecutors asked for Thursday, was continued.

 
 

Man accused of killing three college students, wounding one pleads not guilty

Aug. 10, 2007

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A man accused in the killings of three college students and the wounding of another pleaded not guilty Friday in a crime that has outraged a city fed up with continued violence.

Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, Jose Carranza said he understood the charges against him. It was his first court appearance since he surrendered Thursday to Mayor Cory A. Booker.

Carranza, 28, was being held on $1 million bail. His lawyer, Felix Lopez Montalvo, declined to comment after the 11-minute hearing.

A second suspect, a 15-year-old boy, pleaded not guilty Thursday and remains in custody, prosecutor Thomas McTigue said Friday. Authorities are seeking to have the boy tried as an adult. His name was not released because of his age.

Both have been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and related charges.

The shootings ratcheted up anger in New Jersey's largest city, where overall crime has declined but where killings continued at last year's pace with 60 homicides so far this year. The killings have prompted billboards in the downtown area that scream, "HELP WANTED: Stop the Killings in Newark Now!"

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow has said authorities hoped to arrest others they believe were involved in the killings.

The four victims, friends aged 18 to 20, were shot while visiting in a schoolyard near their homes Saturday night. Authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive.

Terrance Aeriel, 18, Dashon Harvey, 20, and Iofemi Hightower, 20, were forced to kneel against a wall and were shot at close range. The fourth victim, 19-year-old Natasha Aeriel, Terrance Aeriel's sister, survived a wound to her head and is hospitalized. All four planned to attend Delaware State University this fall.

Officials said fingerprints on a bottle found at the shooting scene and ballistics evidence tied Carranza to the crime. Natasha Aeriel has also helped identify the suspects.

Authorities do not believe the four victims knew the suspects.

Residents and law enforcement organizations donated $150,000 to aid the victims' families and to a reward fund for information on the case.

 
 

3rd suspect arrested in N.J. shootings

Janet Frankston Lorin - Associated Press Writer

August 10, 2007

A third suspect was charged Friday in the execution-style killings of three college students, hours after a man pleaded not guilty in a crime that shocked this violence-weary city.

The suspect was identified as 15-year-old boy during a news conference held Friday night by the Essex County prosecutor's office. The teen faces three counts of felony murder, among other charges, said Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the office. He would not provide other details.

The latest arrest was announced several hours after Jose Carranza, 28, pleaded not guilty to three charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and robbery. Victims' relatives questioned why the illegal immigrant from Peru had been granted bail this year on assault and child rape charges.

"I believe in a higher power, but I can't help but think that had (authorities) done their job in the beginning, this might not have happened," said Latasia Harvey, 22, a cousin of victim Dashon Harvey.

A 15-year-old boy pleaded not guilty to the same charges Thursday and remains in custody, Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Thomas McTigue said. Authorities are seeking to have him tried as an adult.

Authorities said they were still looking for others involved in the shootings, which have ratcheted up anger in New Jersey's largest city. The overall crime rate has declined, but the number of killings to date, 60, is nearly even with last year's pace of 63.

The killings have prompted billboards in the downtown area that scream, "HELP WANTED: Stop the Killings in Newark Now!"

"We believe there are other suspects out there," Essex County Prosecutor Paula T. Dow said after the arraignment. She called Carranza a "significant suspect" but declined to elaborate on his role in the shootings or comment on his prior charges.

Carranza was indicted by grand juries in New Jersey twice this year - in April on aggravated assault and weapons charges; and in July on 31 counts including aggravated sexual assault of a child and endangering the welfare of a child he had a duty to supervise.

He was released on $50,000 bail on the assault case, which stemmed from a barroom fight, and $150,000 bail on the sexual assault indictment, which charged that the abuse began in 2003 when the girl was 4 years old and continued to this year.

The prosecutor handling the fight case, Christopher Y. Iu, said the office did not check Carranza's immigration status. A prosecutor supervising the sex assault case, Mark S. Ali, said the office probably believed Carranza had legal immigration status because of his application for a court-appointed attorney. Carranza now has a private lawyer.

Dow would not answer questions about why Carranza was released on bail on the previous charges despite his immigration status.

In a later interview on CNN, Dow said the "uproar" over his immigration status is "going to have to wait for another day."

"We realize that's an issue out here in our criminal justice system, and we are addressing it," Dow said.

On Friday, Carranza could barely be heard in the courtroom as Mayor Cory A. Booker and relatives of the victims watched.

State Superior Court Judge Michael R. Casale continued the $1 million bail and ordered that Carranza be held apart from other inmates at the Essex County jail for his protection. Carranza's lawyer, Felix Lopez Montalvo, declined to comment after the hearing.

Authorities do not believe the four victims knew their assailants. Carranza and the 15-year-old are not related, Dow said. The teen's name was not released because of his age.

The four victims, friends ages 18 to 20, were shot while visiting in a school yard not far from their homes Saturday night. Authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive.

Terrance Aeriel, 18, Dashon Harvey, 20, and Iofemi Hightower, 20, were forced to kneel against a wall and were shot at close range. The fourth victim, 19-year-old Natasha Aeriel, Terrance Aeriel's sister, survived a wound to her head and is hospitalized.

Natasha Aeriel was able to help authorities identify the suspects, the mayor said. Officials said fingerprints on a bottle found at the shooting scene and ballistics evidence also tied Carranza to the crime.

All four victims were planning to attend Delaware State University this fall. Instead, three will be buried Saturday.

 
 

Suspect in Newark slayings allegedly had violent past

by Jonathan Schuppe and Claire Heininger

Thursday August 09, 2007

The man who surrendered to authorities this afternoon in connection with the execution-style slayings of three college students in a Newark schoolyard Saturday has a violent past and was headed to trial on sexual assault charges, court records show.

Jose Carranza, 28, also known as Jose Larchire, was named today as the "principal suspect" in the slaughter that has stirred outrage in the city and beyond its borders. Carranza -- who surrendered in person to Newark Mayor Cory Booker -- and a 15-year-old boy arrested Wednesday night are charged with murder, robbery and weapons offenses in the killings. Authorities are still hunting for other possible suspects.

Carranza, who was picked out of a photo lineup by the attack's lone survivor, is a Peruvian whose last known address was in Orange and was free on bail in two separate cases, according to court records.

He had been indicted by Essex County grand juries twice this year: once in April on aggravated assault and weapons charges; and once in July on 31 counts, including aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old and endangering the welfare of a child he had a duty to supervise, court records show.

With plea negotiations ongoing in the first case, Carranza was due to appear in court later this month, court records show. Instead, he is back in custody today after his fingerprint -- contained in a State Police database -- was matched to one lifted off a beer bottle found at the crime scene in Newark's Ivy Hill section, authorities said.

Accompanied by his lawyer, Carranza turned himself in to the mayor without saying a word, Booker said.

"He said nothing whatsoever," Booker said. "I put my hand on the individual, he turned around and we put him in handcuffs."

Carranza is being held on $1 million bail. His lawyer, Felix Lopez Montalvo, declined to comment, but Carranza's sister said today he is innocent of the killings.

Police continue to seek other perpetrators involved in the case. Garry McCarthy, Newark's police director, said the pace of the investigation has accelerated dramatically today as leads have snowballed.

"We've been able to put ourselves in a position now where we are looking for a number of individuals on a number of different levels," McCarthy said.

The 15-year-old suspect faces charges in Essex County Family Court. A family court judge this morning denied a request from The Star-Ledger to attend the proceedings, saying that if the name is made public he could face retaliation while in custody at the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow said today authorities hope to prosecute the 15-year-old as an adult. She said there was no family relationship between the 15-year-old and Carranza.

The survivor, 19-year-old Natasha Aeriel, remains hospitalized under 24-hour police guard.

The attacks unfolded around 11:30 Saturday night, when Aeriel, her brother and two friends drove to a playground behind Mount Vernon School in Newark's Ivy Hill section to drink, eat and listen to music, authorities said.

When they arrived, there were two men at the playground already. But soon afterward, two or three additional men showed up, and the friends started to panic. They exchanged text messages on their cell phones saying they ought to leave, according to police.

But before they could leave, the men approached the four friends and announced a robbery, police said.

Aeriel was shot first, through the face, and left near some aluminum bleachers. The other three -- her brother, Terrance Aeriel, Iofemi Hightower and Dashon Harvey -- were walked to a school wall, forced to kneel and shot in the back of the head.

The last three, described by family, friends and officials as model students or incoming students at Delaware State University, were dead by the time police arrived in response to a 911 call. Their funerals are planned for Saturday.

Officials continued to insist today that the murders -- in which the victims were black and the suspects, so far, are Hispanic -- were not related to racial tensions or gang activity.

"This is a heinous act, this is a vicious act ... but there is no evidence that it was a racist crime," Booker said.

The mayor, who campaigned on promises to quell Newark's violent street crime, came under intense criticism in the days following the killings. Nevertheless, he remained confident that in the end the crime would unite -- and not divide -- the city.

"We will turn a corner," he said today. "We must come together."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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