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LEAH CUEVAS (RIGHT) KILLED AND DISMEMBERED CHINELLE LATOYA THOMPSON-BROWNE (LEFT).
A 43-year-old woman who was born in Trinidad will spend between 25 years and life in prison in New York for killing and dismembering her Guyanese-born tenant and dumping her body parts in several locations.
Leah Cuevas, who lives in Brooklyn, was found guilty on Tuesday of the second-degree murder of 27-year-old mother of four, Chinelle Latoya Thompson-Browne, in a dispute over rent and utility payments on July 5 last year. She will be sentenced on January 14 next year.
According to prosecutors, Cuevas and Thompson-Browne argued over rent on July 4 and again the next day. Police were called during the first incident, but the second ended with Cuevas stabbing Browne several times and dismembering her body.
Cuevas stabbed Thompson-Browne 39 times. A medical examiner determined that she died of multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso.
Thompson-Browne’s body parts were found over a four-day period, scattered in Long Island. Her torso was in an abandoned lot; one of her arms was found on a lawn; the other arm was discovered in the yard of a house; and her head was found in the yard of another home.
The victim had a husband and four children back in Guyana.
A woman decapitated her neighbour as she pleaded for her life after an argument over unpaid rent before scattering her body parts across two counties, it has been claimed.
Leah Cuevas, 42, from Brooklyn, allegedly murdered mother-of-four Chinelle LaToya Thompson Browne before dismembering her body and dumping the parts around Long Island.
Neigbours living in the same Brownsville apartment block reportedly heard blood-curdling screams as Cuevas hacked off Mrs Browne’s head with 'a sharp instrument'.
Gruesome: Leah Cuevas, left, murdered Guyenese immigrant Chinelle LaToya Thompson Browne, right, before dismembering her body and dumping the parts around Long Island, prosecutors said
Prosecutors said that on July 5, Browne was seen entering Cuevas's apartment. Shortly thereafter, the witness reported hearing Browne scream, 'Oh no, oh no. I'm sorry, I'm sorry.'
Moments later the witness said she heard Cuevas yell an expletive telling Browne to 'shut up'.
The Guyenese immigrant's dismembered torso was discovered in a wooded lot near the Fire Island ferry terminal in Bay Shore on July 9, Biancavilla said. Her severed legs were found nearby.
Days later, the woman's arms were found in separate yards in Hempstead, about 25 miles west of Bay Shore, and her severed head was discovered at another home in the village on July 17, the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors believe Cuevas had pretended to be the landlord' following the death of the building’s owner last year.
She is said to have collected rent from tenants despite the fact the building’s lacked hot water and electricity was scarce. It is believed Browne had become fed up with the and refused to continue paying.
Mother: Chinelle LaToya Thompson Browne with her four children and a friend
Cuevas, 42, has not been charged with defrauding tenants.
She was held without bail in Suffolk County District Court on Long Island after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder.
A statement a neighbor in the building gave to police said the two women had argued loudly the day before over complaints about no electricity, hot water and unpaid rent. That neighbor said Browne was renting a room from Cuevas.
Mary Beth Abbate, a court-appointed defense attorney, argued during the arraignment that Suffolk County was not the proper venue because the killing allegedly took place in New York City. Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said that because the victim's torso was the first evidence recovered — and that happened in Suffolk County — the local court was the proper venue.
District Court Judge G. Ann Spelman agreed and allowed the arraignment to proceed.
An autopsy determined that Browne died of 'homicidal violence,' including multiple stabbing and incise wounds, Biancavilla said. He added Browne's blood was found in Cuevas's apartment and in a hallway.
Scene: The Hempstead police said the head was found around 5 pm Thursday on Boylston Street, close to where the two arms were found dumped earlier this month
He did not say whether a murder weapon was recovered, but police noted in a press release announcing the arrest that the investigation remained 'active'.
Dale Browne, the victim's husband, said his wife had moved to New York about a year ago and worked in a Manhattan department store. He planned to move to New York with their four children after he got his paperwork completed.
He read from a Bible verse outside the courtroom following the arraignment before speaking with reporters.
'I trust God,' he said. 'My wife was a human being, a mother of four, a wife and all that goes with that connotation. She loved her family; she made a sacrifice to leave Guyana to come here.'
He added: 'What hurt the most is when the prosecutor described the words that she screamed out. I can hear those words, you know? Pretty animalistic. Just a beast that did this.'
He declined to comment on whether Browne had spoken of prior disputes with Cuevas.