A Brooklyn woman was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Thursday for stabbing her neighbor to death, cutting her into pieces and dumping the body parts in Hempstead and Bay Shore in July 2014.
Leah Cuevas, 44, was found guilty in December of second-degree murder in the death of Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne, 28, whose body parts were found on four separate days.
At Thursday’s sentencing, Browne’s husband, Dale Browne, said he felt no malice toward Cuevas and once again asked Cuevas to confess her sins and seek God’s forgiveness.
“I forgave you, Leah,” said Browne, who came from his home of Guyana to attend the sentencing in Riverhead along with friends and family. “May the Lord Jesus Christ forgive you.”
Cuevas, who was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder in December, was sentenced to spend the next 25 years to life in prison in what both the judge and lead prosecutor, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla, said was the most gruesome crime they had ever come across in their careers.
“In nearly 30 years, I’ve never seen a more horrific act,” Biancavilla told Suffolk County Court Judge John J. Toomey Jr. prior to the sentencing when he asked the judge to impose the maximum punishment, which the judge granted.
During Cuevas’ weekslong trial, prosecutors had said she and Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne, who lived upstairs from Cuevas, had fought over whether Cuevas was truly the landlord of their building and over whether either or both were cheating on their husbands.
Prosecutors said Cuevas stabbed Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne 39 times in Cuevas’ apartment on July 5, 2014, cut her up, stuffed the body parts in a suitcase, then dumped them in Bay Shore and in three different locations in Hempstead. Police and forensic scientists identified Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne through tattoos and DNA.
Despite her conviction, a defiant Cuevas, who spoke publicly for the first time Thursday since her arrest, told judge Toomey she did not kill her neighbor and friend.
“I am not a murderer,” Cuevas said in court when she was given the chance to speak before sentencing.