Trio indicted on charges in July 4th drive-by killing

Trio indicted on charges in July 4th drive-by killing of 10-year-old girl. A grand jury has indicted three men in the fatal drive-by shooting of a 10-year-old Vineland girl on July 4. Jasayde Holder was playing with sparklers and watching fireworks on the front step of her home on West Earl Drive around 11 p.m. that night when shots were fired from a passing SUV.

Jasayde was struck in the chest and her mother rushed her to Inspira Medical Center Vineland, where she died a short time later.

William L. Harris, 28, of Vineland, is accused of firing the shots. Prosecutors believe Harris had an earlier altercation with someone else living in the home where Jasayde was killed and that this may have been the motive for the shooting.

Harris, Karonjah N. Witt, 28, of Vineland, and Xavier L. Bogan, 21, of Upper Deerfield Township, were arrested on various charges related to the killing and another shooting that happened earlier that evening on Francine Drive in Vineland.
William L. Harris, Xavier L. Bogan and Karonjah N. Witt

(Left to right) William L. Harris, Xavier L. Bogan and Karonjah N. Witt are charged in the shooting death of a 10-year-old Vineland girl.(Cumberland County Jail)

Investigators traced the vehicle used in the fatal shooting to Bogan, who admitted driving Harris and Witt to two locations on July 4, according to prosecutors.

First, they drove to a home on Francine Drive where Witt allegedly fired on an occupied home. No one was injured.

Hours later, they drove to West Earl Drive, prosecutors said, where Harris allegedly opened fire as Jasayde sat outside with her mother.

A Cumberland County grand jury indicted Harris this week on first-degree charges of murder, aggravated manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder, along with third-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and second-degree gun possession offenses.

Witt was indicted on charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, third-degree aggravated assault, third-degree receiving stolen property and second-degree gun possession offenses, while Bogan was indicted on first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, third-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and second-degree gun crimes.

Harris has maintained his innocence. His public defender previously argued that prosecutors were relying on Bogan’s statements and that he was only trying to protect himself by implicating Harris.

Deputy Public Defender JoEllyn Jones also suggested the state overcharged in the case by charging her client with first-degree murder. Whoever fired the shots wasn’t intentionally targeting a young girl, Jones said, so the shooter should face aggravated manslaughter or reckless manslaughter.

Harris was arrested July 14 at a home in Millville. He allegedly tried to run from police while handcuffed, but was quickly apprehended. He was also charged with drug offenses after a large quantity of pills, including MDMA and oxycodone, were found in the home and issued a summons for resisting arrest.

All three defendants remain jailed pending trial.

A teacher and coach at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset County has been charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old, authorities said.

Matthew J. Rennie, of East Amwell in Hunterdon County, is also charged with endangering the welfare of the girl, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday.

The sexual assaults took place between July and September in Montgomery and East Amwell.

The 17-year-old reported Rennie to police in Franklin Township, where Rutgers Prep is located. He was arrested on Wednesday and is being held the Somerset County jail in Somerville ahead of a detention hearing.

Another teacher and coach at the school — Ranait Griff, 30, of Brooklyn, New York — is charged with endangering the welfare of a child because authorities said she had knowledge of the assault and didn’t report it.

“We take the allegations made against two school employees extremely seriously,” a Rutgers Prep spokeswoman said in statement without naming Rennie or Griff. “When we learned they had been arrested, both were immediately suspended. The safety of our students is our first priority. We have hired an experienced investigator to conduct a thorough and independent investigation, and we will cooperate fully with law enforcement. Because this is a legal matter and a personnel matter we will not comment further.”

Attorney information for Rennie and Griff wasn’t immediately available.

Rennie and Griff’s names have been removed from the Rutgers Prep website, though the NJSIAA website shows he coached girls volleyball and she coached girls lacrosse at the school in the Somerset section of town.

Both Rennie and Griff are former star basketball players at Rutgers Prep who went on to play in college for Division I schools. Rennie went to Dartmouth while Griff attended Fordham.

Revealed: anti-vaccine TikTok videos being viewed by children as young as nine

Lies and conspiracy theories about Covid-19, which have amassed millions of views and are accessible to young children, have been available on the social media platform TikTok for months.

TikTok accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers that discourage vaccination and peddle myths about Covid survival rates were uncovered by NewsGuard, an organisation that monitors online misinformation.

Newsguard said it published its findings in June and sent them to the UK Government and WHO, but the content remained on the platform.

The revelation comes amid renewed concern about the impact that social media is having on young people, after it was reported that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, had internal research showing its app was harming teenagers.

As part of its investigation, Newsguard said children as young as nine had been able to access the content, despite TikTok only permitting full access to the app for those aged 13 and over. Three participants in the organisation’s research who were under 13 were able to create accounts on the app by entering fake dates of birth.

TikTok told the Guardian it worked diligently to take action on content and accounts that spread misinformation.

Some of the accounts seen by the Guardian had posted individual videos containing Covid misinformation that had attracted up to 9.2m views. The misinformation included false comments about dangerous side-effects of specific brands of Covid vaccine and misleading comparisons between Covid survival rates and vaccine efficacy rates.

Alex Cadier, UK managing director for NewsGuard, said: “TikTok’s failure to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation on their app is unsustainable bordering on dangerous. Despite claims of taking action against misinformation, the app still allows anti-vaccine content and health hoaxes to spread relatively unimpeded.

“This is made worse by the fact that the more anti-vaccine content kids interact with, the more anti-vaccine content they’ll be shown. If self-regulation isn’t working for social media platforms, then regulation, like the online safety bill, has to be the way forward to keep young people safe online.”

Published in May, the draft online safety bill imposes a “duty of care” on social media companies, and some other platforms that allow users to share and post material, to remove “harmful content”. This can include content that is legal but still judged to be harmful, such as abuse that doesn’t reach the threshold of criminality, and posts that encourage self-harm and misinformation.

Cadier added: “The difficulty in really knowing the scale of this problem is that TikTok hold all the information and get to mark their own homework.

“They say they’ve taken down 30,000 videos containing Covid-19 misinformation in the first quarter of 2021, which is a good step, but how many are left? Of the ones they deleted, how many views did each get? Who shared them? Where did they spread? Where did they come from? How many users mostly see misinformation when they see Covid-19 related content?”

On Friday, the Financial Times reported an investigation by the digital rights charity 5Rights had alleged that dozens of tech companies, including TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, were breaching the UK’s new children’s code, which protects children’s privacy online.

The research was submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office as part of a complaint written by Beeban Kidron, the charity’s chair and the member of the House of Lords who originally proposed the code.

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