The crime shocked the city, and the repercussions continue to rock the school district, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Judge Barry Warhit honored the plea deal and sentenced Z’Inah Brown to 17 years.
Police said Brown came from a difficult background, including homelessness, but the judge said nothing excuses her stalking and then stabbing Valaree Schwab in January 2018.
The 18-year-old convicted killer said nothing in court and showed no emotion during heartfelt comments from the victim’s sister.
“Z’Inah Brown, I hope you figure out a way to bear your burden, because ours is heavier each day,” Brittney Schwab said.
Valaree Schwab was 16 when she was stabbed to death in the New Rochelle Business District near the high school. The incident happened on Jan. 10, 2018, a school day, during an hour-long off-campus dispute between two groups of students.
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino said the rift started on social media.
“And then the kids, it just escalates into something I don’t think anyone ever anticipated would occur,” Scarpino said. “But it seems to be very common that we’re starting to see bullying sometimes turning into something more.”
At one point, Valaree Schwab pepper-sprayed some of Brown’s friends. It culminated with Brown pulling a steak knife from her jacket and fatally stabbing her classmate.
Standing next to their father, Chris, on Wednesday, Brittney Schwab spoke of the family’s enduring pain.
“Your sudden, senseless act of violence stole her life young and none of us will ever understand why. We never thought we would be thinking about Valaree as a memory, but today we do,” Brittney Schwab said. “I hope that her sudden, untimely death will never be used in a discussion as fuel for hate. I hope that, if anything, it can serve as a reminder for young people to find peaceful ways to resolve conflict.”
In handing down the sentence, Judge Warhit called Brown’s attack on her high school classmate “inexplicable and unforgivable.”
Brown’s lawyer and family left court without comment.
The fatal stabbing was one of a series of violent acts involving New Rochelle High School students that shook the community, generating deep concerns that contributed to the departure of the superintendent and the high school principal.
Two other students were arraigned on assault and stalking charges in the case.