Prosecutor: NJ schoolyard deaths part of gang test

NEWARK, N.J. – The execution-style slayings of three friends in a New Jersey schoolyard nearly three years ago were carried out to test the mettle of an aspiring gang member, a prosecutor told jury members Wednesday as the first trial stemming from the attacks neared a conclusion.

Four of the six defendants were summoned to the Mount Vernon School playground on the night of Aug. 4, 2007, by defendant Rodolfo Godinez “because he saw the opportunity of soft targets in an isolated area,” Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas McTigue said during closing arguments.

McTigue focused on Godinez’s statement to authorities in Maryland, where he was arrested two weeks after the killings, in which Godinez told police he was a ranking member of MS-13, the El Salvadoran-based street gang. The statement was played for jurors during the trial.

Leave a Reply