Newburgh teen pleads not guilty to murder

Nija Johnson, 17, faces multiple counts of murder, assault and weapon possession relating to the Oct. 30 deaths of 18-year-old Omani Free and 20-year-old Tabitha Cruz.

Nija Johnson, 17, faces multiple counts of murder, assault and weapon possession relating to the Oct. 30 deaths of 18-year-old Omani Free and 20-year-old Tabitha Cruz. (12/6/16)

NEWBURGH - Nija Johnson was arraigned in Orange County on murder charges Tuesday in the fatal shootings of Tabitha Cruz and Omani Free.

Johnson, who pleaded not guilty, allegedly opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun at a Halloween party on Oct. 30 in Newburgh.

Cruz and Free were killed, and five other people were injured as well. Following the shooting, Johnson was the subject of a multistate manhunt. He was finally arrested in Virginia.

The parents of Cruz sat inside the Orange County courtroom seeking justice for their daughter.

"I hate his actions, and I hate the fact that somebody was able to put a gun in his hand. I hate the fact that he didn't feel he had a choice that night, but I don't hate him," Tabitha Cruz's mother, Janette Drake, said after the arraignment.

Johnson's attorney, James Winslow, entered a not guilty plea for his client during the brief arraignment in Goshen, but did not talk to reporters outside court.

Johnson is being held without bail at the Orange County Jail. His next appearance in court is set for Jan. 12.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

News 12 speaks with residents about what they 1 Westchester Talks Trump: Tax plan
VIDEO: Interview with survivor of human trafficking 2 VIDEO: Interview with survivor of human trafficking
3 VIDEO: 2 men hold up Thornwood Verizon store
Carmel police say they found Pearl Gatchalian, 75, 4 Homicide suspected in death of woman in Mahopac
A group of teenagers from Westchester are raising 5 Westchester teens raise money for children in Aleppo

advertisement | advertise on News 12

More News

An Orange County community said goodbye Saturday to Funeral held for Newburgh Halloween party shooting victim

An Orange County community said goodbye Saturday to one of two young women killed at

Jeanette Drake says she received a phone call Mother: Newburgh Halloween party shooter in custody

The mother of one of the victims killed during a Halloween party shooting in Newburgh

A rally was held at a Newburgh school Rally held after Newburgh Halloween party killings

A rally was held at a Newburgh school on Monday calling for an end to

Nija Johnson, 17, is accused of opening fire Teen pleads not guilty in deadly Halloween party shooting

A Newburgh teenager pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with a deadly shooting at

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE