NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 375 years in jail in the 2016 slayings of three people, including two children, in New Jersey’s largest city that authorities said apparently stemmed from his anger over a Facebook post.
Jurors in Essex County deliberated for less than two hours last month before convicting 31-year-old Jeremy Arrington of three counts of murder and attempted murder as well as burglary, criminal restraint and weapons charges.
Judge Ronald Wigler on Friday imposed three consecutive life terms in the slayings as well as consecutive sentences on other counts, telling the defendant that he had committed “perhaps the most horrific, heinous, cruel, and depraved murders this county has ever seen.”
Prosecutors said Arrington entered a Newark home in November 2016, tied up people inside and stabbed them with kitchen knives, killing 8-year-old Aerial Little Whitehurst and 11-year-old Al-Jahon Whitehurst, then shot and killed 23-year-old college student Syasia McBurroughs, who was visiting the family.
A 29-year-old woman, a 13-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were wounded. Prosecutors said a young girl with autism was able to escape and called for help from a closet, allowing police to respond before more lives were lost.
Authorities said Arrington was apparently angry that one of the victims had reposted a Facebook alert from police naming him as a suspect in an earlier shooting and sexual assault.
In addition to the three life terms, the judge imposed consecutive 50-year sentences for each of the three attempted murder convictions, prosecutors said. A life term under New Jersey law is 75 years, and a defendant must serve 63 years and nine months before being eligible for parole. Under the law, prosecutors said, Arrington would not be eligible for parole before serving 281 years of his 375-year sentence.
Arrington, who did not take the stand at his trial, read a short statement at Friday sentencing hearing apologizing to the families. He described his actions as “craziness and uncalled for” and said he would switch places with the victims if he could, NJ.com reported.
The defense tried to use an insanity defense at trial but that was rejected by the judge because the defense lawyer was unable to find an expert witness to testify that Arrington couldn’t be held criminally liable for his actions due to his mental state, NJ.com reported.