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Newark Schoolyard Murders Survivor Testifies

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From left: Victims Terrence Aeriel, Ioefemi Hightower and Dashon Harvey (credit: CBS)

From left: Victims Terrence Aeriel, Ioefemi Hightower and Dashon Harvey (credit: CBS)

NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2) — The sole survivor of the Newark schoolyard murders took the witness stand Wednesday.

On trial was Alexander Alfaro, accused in the killings of three friends and the attempted murder of a fourth in August of 2007.

Prosecutors said Alfaro, his half-brother Rodolfo Godinez, and four others targeted the group to make their mark with the gang MS-13.

“I don’t ever want the world to forget my daughter as well as her friends they were good kids they had ambitions, they had goals,” said Shalga Hightower.

This was the second trial in the triple murder case. Godinez was convicted last May and sentenced on July 8, 2010 to 245 years in prison.

The victims’ families had their say that day.

“Enjoy the rest of your life in prison because society won’t miss you or your kind,” James Harvey said.

With tears in their eyes, the family of three college students murdered in a Newark schoolyard spoke directly to Godinez, the man convicted of killing their children. They asked the judge to put him away for a long time.

“Please assure me when an innocent child goes out to laugh and to play Mr. Godinez isn’t there to turn that child’s music into murder and her dancing into death,” Shalga Hightower said.

It was their chance to talk before Godinez was sentenced for the murders of Iofemi Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance Aeriel, who were shot dead execution-style in the summer of 2007.

Aeriel’s mother told the 27-year-old killer what he took away from her. “One night, whole life has changed. The next, I had to go to the morgue,” she said.

During the sentencing, the judge told Godinez, who rolled his eyes and showed no emotion, he was evil and had no remorse.

Hightower talked about her daughter’s life, telling the judge how she had dreams of becoming a musician and how accomplished she was as a drummer.

“And she would look at me with a big, beautiful smile and glow in her face, eyes and say ‘Mom, my heart is in my music. My music is in my heart’,” she said.

Godinez’s mother didn’t speak, but his attorney did. “The excessive nature of the pre-trial publicity was prejudicial,” he said.

“Just as you made their mothers cry it seems you’ve been making your mother cry for a long time,” said Jamillah Ahmed, Aeriel’s aunt.

The most powerful statement came from the young woman who survived the attacks, after being shot in the head, cut up with a machete and sexually assaulted. She said she wanted Godinez to get beat up in jail and that she wanted to be notified the minute he died.

Another man pleaded guilty in the case. He was also sentenced to multiple life terms.

Three other defendants were awaiting trial.

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