NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The survivor of an attack that killed three college-aged friends in 2007 testified in a civil trial against the school district Monday that she felt safe entering the New Jersey schoolyard, but once attacked thought she might die.
The woman testified Monday in a lawsuit filed by the parents of Iofemi Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance Aeriel, who were shot behind Newark’s Mount Vernon School on Aug. 4, 2007. Six men and boys arrested for the murders have pleaded guilty or been convicted and are serving combined sentences of more than 1,000 years.
The suit, brought by the families of the victims and a fourth victim who survived the attack, claims the Mount Vernon School was negligent by leaving the playground open at night when it was a known gang hangout.
According to the lawsuit, the school’s security cameras did not work and the playground was poorly lit.
The families’ lawsuit claims the school district was negligent for leaving the gates open at night when it was a known gang hangout.
In an earlier criminal trial for one of the defendants, the survivor testified that she was sexually assaulted, slashed with a machete and shot in the head.
The survivor has testified in criminal trials that the four drove into the schoolyard and parked near some bleachers, where they listened to music and drank sodas. They were then set upon by six men and boys who robbed them, then forced three of them to walk down a set of stairs and kneel against a wall, where they were each shot in the head.
All six defendants pleaded guilty or were convicted by juries. Five are serving multiple consecutive life sentences, while a sixth received a 30-year sentence in exchange for testifying for the prosecution.
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