MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman has pleaded no contest to first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of a classmate during a fight inside a Detroit-area high school.
Tanaya Lewis’ plea Wednesday came during a pretrial conference in Macomb County Circuit Court and was made under a guarantee she will be eligible for parole later in life. Her sentencing is set for Sept. 16.
A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing.
Lewis was 17 when 16-year-old Danyna Gibson was stabbed in the upper chest and back with a steak knife Sept. 12, 2018 at Warren Fitzgerald High School. Witnesses told police Lewis smiled and laughed as she chased Gibson with the knife.
Authorities have said the fight was over a male student, and that both girls were straight-A students who had no history of trouble.
Defense attorney Mark Brown said the plea deal locks in Lewis’ sentence.
“It’s in her best interests to do this considering all of the circumstances,” he said. “It’s a horrible situation all the way around and this is a fair resolution.”
Prosecutors declined to seek life without parole because of Lewis’ age and inability to appreciate the long-term consequences of her actions, The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reported.
“This was a calculated, thought-out, intentional event, but because she was 17-years-old (she) lacked the frontal cortex (brain) development to fully recognized the long-term consequences,” Assistant Macomb Prosecutor William Cataldo said.