The mother of a high school football player killed last summer in suburban New Jersey pleaded with a judge this week to reject a plea deal offered to the person who admitted to killing the teenager.
However, the plea deal passed and Yohan Hernandez, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree aggravated assault and second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon on Thursday while appearing in a Newark courtroom.
In early August 2021, Hernandez was arrested for the June 6, 2021 shooting of Moussa Fofana, a Columbia High School junior football team aiming to play professional football.
The shooting took place outside the Underhill Sports Complex in Maplewood, where Moussa played football at his school and could be seen playing the sport on a daily basis.
A second student was also wounded in the shooting but survived.
According to NJ.com, Moussa’s mother, Howa Fofana, pleaded with the judge to overturn the proposed settlement, which sees Hernandez serving 15 years.
Hernandez faced 30 years to life in prison if convicted by a jury.
“Since he was killed, I can’t sleep,” the grieving mother told Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler. “My life will never be the same. Please, I’m begging you. Fifteen years old? I’d have nightmares.”
The website reports that Yasshe Fofana, Moussa’s father, cried while addressing the judge. “I just need justice,” he said. “I just need justice for my son.”
NJ.com reports that friends and family supporters marched last week in protest after learning of the plea deal.
The court also received a petition signed by more than 1,300 people who are against the plea deal.
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The terms of the settlement require Hernandez to serve at least 85% of his prison sentence, or nearly 13 years, before he can become eligible for parole.
Hernandez, who is not a US citizen, will likely face deportation upon his release, Wigler said.
Hernandez will be formally sentenced on November 16.