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Prosecutors: Boy, 15, Facing Murder Charges For Christmas Night Shooting In Newark

Zainee Hailey and Kasson Morman (credit: CBS 2)

Zainee Hailey and Kasson Morman (credit: CBS 2)

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities say a 15-year-old boy faces 2 counts of murder in the Christmas night slayings of two Newark children.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray announced the arrest Tuesday afternoon.

“Zainee Hailey was an innocent bystander who stumbled into a situation,” Murray said.

She says the juvenile, whose name was not disclosed due to his age, is also charged with attempted murder of a third shooting victim and weapons charges. He’s being held in a youth detention facility.

“The motive is still under investigation,” said Murray.

News of an arrest came on the same day as the funeral for 13-year-old Hailey.

Hailey was fatally shot around 10 p.m. Christmas night as she was taking out the trash at her family’s house on Schley Street.

Murray said it appears Hailey was just an innocent bystander.

“Puts some comfort in my heart that they apprehended the person who is capable of doing something like he did,” said the girl’s grandfather, Michael Peterson. “My heart was rejoiced because it brings a little comfort to the family.”

Family and friends gathered to bid a final farewell to Hailey who was known as a quiet honor student and cheerleader.

Funeral services were held at the New Zion Baptist Church in Elizabeth, where Hailey sang in the choir.

Her father remembered his daughter as a bright spot in the world.

“She was just joyful. That’s all. She was just a fun person to be around, when I’m down, she keep me up, in so many words man, she was me and I was her,” James Hailey said.

One of eight children, Zainee was James’ pride and joy.

“She was just joyful. A fun person to be around,” he told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

After the ceremony, balloons were released and Hailey showed CBS 2’s cameras Zainee’s new baby sister.

“This is the new baby. Born the day before his daughter’s life was taken away,” family friend Jeanine Holmes said.

Kasson Morman, 15, was killed in the same shooting and a 14-year-old boy was seriously injured.

Prosecutors said they will consider whether to try the teen as an adult.

The shooting brought Newark’s murder total to 100 for the year for the first time since 2006.

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