Nahquil Lovest was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the 2019 shooting of Naimah Bell. Prosecutors said that the NJ man must serve 85% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. Lovest learned about his sentencing on Jan. 6.
He was sentenced on an amended charge of aggravated manslaughter. When he originally pled guilty in July 2020, the young man was charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter.
According to reports, the suspect was arrested on July 26, 2019, just one day after shooting Naimah Bell. The murder happened inside a crowded Atlantic City apartment near the Ocean casino-hotel around 4 a.m.
An autopsy of the 15-year-old girl determined that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.
Police were called to the 102 Massachusetts Avenue residence after neighbors reported screams coming from the apartment. The landlord said that an eviction notice had already been served for the middle-aged woman that lived there and he was unsure how Naimah Bell and others got into the apartment.
Robert Milkewicz, a maintenance manager for the building, said it was the screams that woke him up. He said, “They were screaming, I knew something bad happened… I heard them say ‘Call the police, call the police.”
At the time of the shooting, police discovered the six teenagers had been in the apartment and they were fooling around with a handgun. According to reports, Nahquil Lovest removed some of the bullets out of the gun before pointing it at Naimah Bell. Police believe Lovest was trying to play a game similar to Russian Roulette.
His lawyer, Alex Settle, said the whole thing was an accident. He said, “He acknowledged that he was playing with the gun, he acknowledged that he unloaded the gun. He believed that he had taken all of the bullets out. He had pointed the gun around and was clicking it and it went off.”
The prosecution argued that because he knew that some of the bullets were still in the gun, then that knowledge made him guilty for the young girl’s death.
Seth Levy, the chief assistant for the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said, “After Lovest shot and killed her, he was crying and saying he didn’t mean to do it. And all the witnesses in the world who say it was an accident because he wasn’t mad at her or didn’t steal from her, doesn’t change the fact that he knew there was a bullet in the gun when he pulled the trigger against her head.”
At the time of her death, Naimah Bell had just started her freshman year at Atlantic City High School. She was at the top of her class, and many of her friends remembered her as funny and someone who always wanted to make her friends happy.
Sanai Macon, a friend of the young girl, said, “All we did was just laugh and goof around. That’s all we ever did. She had a whole bunch of friends, and that’s all we ever did. We didn’t do nothing because there’s really nothing to do in Atlantic City.”
The pair had recently reunited shortly before Naimah Bell’s death after spending a couple years going to different schools. A candlelight vigil was held for the teen in 2019 and friends and family were able to pay their respects.
Another friend, Niyyah Callaway, said, “She’d light up the room when she came in. She was beautiful, smart and everyone loved her.”
Naimah Bell’s family has not commented on the sentencing of her killer.