A New Jersey man who used courting apps to lure and kill three girls 5 years in the past was sentenced Wednesday to 160 years in jail after a trial during which it was revealed that buddies of 1 sufferer did their very own detective work on social media to ferret out the suspect.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 25, sat immobile because the decide gave the sentence in state courtroom in Newark. The sentencing was preceded by emotional statements by members of the family of victims Robin West and Sarah Butler.
In a short assertion earlier than they spoke, Wheeler-Weaver denied duty, telling Superior Courtroom Choose Mark S. Ali that he was framed. Wheeler-Weaver’s mom, aunt and brother sat within the gallery however did not tackle the courtroom.
The sentences lined three murders, one tried homicide and different counts together with kidnapping, aggravated arson and desecration of human stays.
The Essex County prosecutor’s workplace had credited buddies of Butler, a university scholar from Montclair, with utilizing social media to assist police discover Wheeler-Weaver. They gained entry to her social media accounts, arrange a pretend account, lured Wheeler-Weaver to a gathering in Montclair and notified police, in line with prosecutors.
A fourth lady who survived an assault and testified at Wheeler-Weaver’s trial additionally offered essential info that helped investigators, because the particulars of her assault had been much like these of the opposite victims.
At Wednesday’s sentencing, Tiffany Taylor described how the assault modified her life.
“My entire life is totally different; I do not put on make-up anymore; I haven’t got buddies. I am at all times paranoid. However I’m completely satisfied to nonetheless be right here,” she mentioned, earlier than addressing the decide with, “I hope you don’t present him any regret, as a result of he’s not displaying any regret.”
Prosecutors introduced proof at trial that Wheeler-Weaver, then 20, used the courting apps to lure the ladies for intercourse after which strangled them. Their our bodies had been discovered between September and December 2016 in northern New Jersey. Investigators additionally introduced proof from Wheeler-Weaver’s cellphone that positioned him the place the victims disappeared and the place their our bodies had been discovered.
Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Adam Wells famous Wednesday that the killings had been separated by weeks, giving Wheeler-Weaver an opportunity to ponder his actions earlier than killing once more.
“The defendant believed these victims had been disposable. They had been killed after which he went on about his day as if nothing had occurred,” he mentioned. “However every of those girls’s lives mattered.”
West, a 19-year-old from Philadelphia, was seen getting right into a automotive with Wheeler-Weaver the night time of Aug. 31, 2016, and was killed inside the subsequent few hours, prosecutors mentioned. They alleged Wheeler-Weaver dumped her physique in an deserted home not removed from his personal home in Orange, close to Newark, and set the home on hearth. It took about two weeks to determine her stays.
West’s mom, Anita Mason, described a generally headstrong younger lady who usually confirmed a softer facet.
“I’ll always remember her smile, her face, her stroll, her want to assist homeless individuals,” Mason mentioned Wednesday. “The world focuses on the final month of her life. She had a complete whole life earlier than her demise. A whole lot of individuals had been affected by her life and had been saddened by her loss of life.”
Joanne Brown, 33, of Newark, was killed a few month after West was recognized and in addition dumped in an deserted home in Orange, however her physique wasn’t found till six weeks later. Butler disappeared round Thanksgiving 2016, a few month after Brown was killed, and her stays had been found in a wooded space 4 days earlier than Brown’s physique was found. Each girls had been strangled with clothes.
On Wednesday, Butler’s father, Victor, urged the decide to present Wheeler-Weaver the utmost sentence. Then, turning to the defendant, he mentioned:
“I hope you undergo, boy, each night time.”