A Brooklyn man has pleaded guilty to burning an elderly woman to death inside the elevator of her Prospect Heights apartment building.
Jerome Isaac pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder and arson in the December 2011 death of Deloris Gillespie. Under the plea bargain, Isaac faces 25 to life for the first-degree murder and another 25 for burning down the door of his brother’s home where he escaped to after the attack.
Prosecutors say Isaac attacked the 73-year-old because he believed she owed him money for “some work [he] did for her.” Isaac said he had cleaned her apartment for four or five months and asked Gillespie to give him $300, but she never did. He poured gasoline on her, set her on fire with a barbecue lighter, and threw a Molotov cocktail inside the elevator.
The attack was recorded on a security camera.
Assistant district attorney Mark Hale said, “He will never again be a free man. We don’t have to worry about Mr. Isaac anymore.”
Gillespie’s family and friends said she allowed Isaac to clean her apartment out of kindness and that she wanted to help him out. She even trusted him with a key. But Isaac betrayed her trust and kindness when he began stealing from her. Gillespie then changed locks, but Isaac continued to harass her for the money he claimed she owed him.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice told Isaac, “You acted in an especially cruel and wanton manner, intending to inflict and inflicting torture.” He asked Isaac if he understood he would be incarcerated for the rest of his life, to which he replied, “Yes.”
Isaac was ordered to pay $127,228.75 in restitution for the damage caused by the fire.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 30.
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