Outrage after man who stabbed high school sophomore to death, watched him die then hid murder weapon gets acquitted

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HARTFORD, CT- In what can only be described as a shocking conclusion, a Hartford (CT) Superior Court jury on Friday found Shyhiem “Trey” Adams not guilty on both counts in connection with the 2018 murder of a 16-year-old Enfield High School sophomore, Justin Brady.

Adams had been charged with first-degree manslaughter and evidence tampering in connection with Brady’s death, according to the Manchester Journal Inquirer.

 The verdict left Brady’s father, Thomas shocked.

“How can a 16-year-old get stabbed to death, and people do nothing about it?” he asked. “there’s no way to wrap my head around it.”

Brady also said that people had actually stood over Justin and done nothing as life drained from him after Adams stabbed him at around midnight on Sept. 9-10, 2018 on Hoover Lane in the Hartford suburb of Enfield.

However Adams’ defense attorney, Christopher D. Parker claimed the murder was in self defense.

“From the facts, it was clear that it was self-defense, and I’m glad the jury saw it that way.”

The jury only deliberated for a total of just under an hour-and-a-half, around 45 minutes Thursday and another 40 minutes on Friday before reaching their verdict, according to Parker.

Adams, now 21, was 18 when he fatally stabbed Justin Brady.

In an amazing argument, Parker actually claimed, according to the outlet that “society can’t place adult expectations on adolescents.” Adams was eighteen, hardly an “adolescent.” He was old enough to vote, old enough to enlist in the military, yet he somehow doesn’t understand that stabbing someone is wrong?

Parker’s argument was dismissed by prosecutor John F. Fahey, who reminded the jury that the law does not have a “separate standard for adolescents.”

In Connecticut, Manslaughter in the First Degree (53a55)- Class B felony is defined as follows:

  • A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when: (1) With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person; or (2) with intent to cause the death of another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person under circumstances which do not constitute murder because he committed the proscribed act or acts under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance, as provided in subsection (a) of section 53a-54a, except that the fact homicide was committed under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance constitutes a mitigating circumstance reducing murder to manslaughter in the first degree and need not be proved in any prosecution initiated under this subsection; or (3) under circumstances evincing an extreme difference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes the death of another person. [emphasis added]

In Parker’s closing arguments, he attempted to make the case that Adams had not intentionally caused serious physical injury to Brady, however, was trying to get Brady off him after he knocked him to the ground and hit him repeatedly in the head.

Taking Parker’s argument that Adams was attempting to “get Brady off” him, using a knife for the purposes of doing that, a deadly weapon, clearly showed “extreme indifference to human life,” he did so “recklessly,” and it created “a grave risk of death to another person,” and then “caused the death” of that person.

Adams’ conduct clearly met the elements of the crime of Manslaughter in the First Degree as outlined in Connecticut General Statutes.

In other words, Parker claimed—and the jury evidently bought it—that Adams was acting in self-defense. Under Connecticut law, there is a duty to retreat on the part of a person who can do so “with complete safety.”

Fahey pushed back on Parker’s argument and suggested numerous ways that Adams could have retreated from the fight. In fact, based on the facts of the case Adams could have avoided it in the first place, which was addressed by Fahey.

First, he could have stayed in the house of his friend, Michael Cerrato, or if necessary, wake Cerrato’s father, Mark Cerrato (assistant town attorney in Enfield, by the way) who may have had his son, who was encouraging Adams to fight Brady, back down.

Other options included either calling a relative to pick him up or go out the back door and avoid the situation altogether. Adams chose none of those options and decided to fight Brady, which was noted by Justin’s father.

“You have to withdraw from the situation,” he said.

In his testimony, Adams said Brady and a friend, Jaylin Kohler went to the Cerrato home to sell marijuana, which Brady’s father disputed.

“There was no marijuana found on Justin, in his car,” Thomas Brady said. “It’s just a story for why they came over.”

The fight was pre-planned ahead of time, with the two agreeing to do so in Snapchat conversations, according to prosecution witnesses. Adams disputed that, saying there was no such agreement.

One other factor that should have, but apparently did not weigh in the jury’s decision was Connecticut General Statute 53a-19, which prohibits acquittal on grounds of self-defense in cases of “combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law.”

The second charge, evidence tampering involved the allegation that Adams had attempted to secret the knife under a mattress in the Cerrato home or had directed Michael Cerrato to do so.

During the case, Fahey wasn’t able to produce either eyewitness testimony or other evidence that Adams had admitted involvement in hiding the knife, but instead argued he had to have been involved based on the fact that as the chief suspect, he had a key interest in preventing police from finding the knife.

However during a statement given to Enfield Police detectives, Adams told them he had thrown the knife in the “Suffield River,” which investigators believed to be a reference to the Connecticut River, which divides the towns of Enfield and Suffield. However during a subsequent search of the Cerrato home, Connecticut State Police detectives found the knife under a mattress.

The case has raised tempers on both sides, and has resulted in scuffles at courthouses in both Enfield and after it was transferred to Part A in Hartford. However Parker complimented judicial marshals who were able to keep the sides separated during the trial, where there were no further incidents.

When the verdict was announced, both sides of the trial reacted, Parker said, “some happy, some sad.” Parker noted that while he didn’t believe Adams has any “present concerns” for his safety, he added, “I don’t think he’ll be going to Enfield any time soon.”

For Justin’s father, Thomas Brady, however, the verdict left him frustrated and empty, calling it a “slap in the face.” He also predicted many “sleepless nights ahead.”

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For another stabbing case involving a teen suspect that turned out differently, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

NEW YORK CITY, NY – One of the teenagers who was implicated in the killing of 18-year-old Tessa Majors back in 2019 reportedly pleaded guilty to second-degree murder back in September.

The now-16-year-old who pleaded guilty, Luchiano Lewis, was charged as an adult and fill face sentencing later in October.

On September 21st, 16-year-old Lewis entered a guilty plea for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery for the December 11th, 2019 killing of Tessa Majors.

Majors was fatally stabbed in New York City’s Morningside Park during an attempted robbery, where Lewis, who was 14 at the time, said was carried out by himself and two other teens.

One of the teens involved, Zyairr Davis who was reportedly 13 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty in 2020 to robbery charges and is currently serving an 18-month sentence in a juvenile facility.

This leaves only one other alleged participant not having been convicted in Majors’ killing, now-16-year-old Rashaun Weaver.

According to a statement Lewis delivered while in court entering his plea, he alleged that his then-14-year-old classmate at the time, Weaver, was the individual who coaxed him and Davis into “doing robberies with him”, also pointing out that Weaver was the person who stabbed Majors.

Lewis told the court that on two different occasions when Weaver urged him to participate in robberies, he backed out, but then joined in on one failed mugging and then eventually participated in the December 2019 incident that resulted in Majors being killed.

On the night of Majors’ murder, Lewis said he and the others saw her walking in the park while looking down at her cellphone, and Weaver approached her from the rear and kicked her in the back, saying:

“Give me your money! Run your pockets, I’m not playing!”

Lewis claimed that Majors responded with, “Are you seriously trying to rob me?”

A tussle ensued, with Lewis placing Majors in a headlock and Weaver allegedly stabbing her. Lewis told the court that the knife was not part of the plan when robbing the young woman:

“I assumed that Rashaun had a knife on him, but I didn’t see it and using a knife was not part of our plan.”

Lewis further added that on the evening of the incident, he didn’t even know that Majors had been stabbed, let alone died.

It wasn’t until he heard about there being a murder in the park where they robbed Majors that Lewis checked new reports online and saw their victim from the prior evening:

“I realized it was the girl we had robbed.”

The statement delivered to the court by Lewis serves as more evidence that has been piling up against Weaver in the case, which he has pleaded not guilty to. Weaver’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, was also present during Lewis’ guilty plea in court.

Lichtman, who is most known for having previously represented Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is representing Weaver for free – saying that his client who is accused of being the individual who stabbed Majors in her heart doesn’t deserve life in prison:

“This was not a premeditated murder as we heard inside. These were 14-and 13-year-old boys. Let’s make sure to remember that.”

The Majors family issued a statement regarding the second guilty plea achieved in their daughter’s case:

“We are aware of today’s proceeding involving the second guilty plea. We remain resolute in our belief that all parties who bear responsibility for Tess’s senseless death will be held accountable, and we are deeply grateful to the many people who continue to pursue that goal.

In particular, we would like to thank the members of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Police Department for their tireless and thorough efforts. We have maintained confidence in their work from the beginning and appreciate their diligence and the compassion they have shown us.”

According to New York state law, a second-degree murder conviction can carry a prison sentence of 15 to 25 years. Sentencing for Lewis will be carried out on October 14th.

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