MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – A judge has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Lloyd Lewis, the Mount Vernon man accused of beating beloved South Sixth Street resident Emma Gruber to death.
On Wednesday, Lewis, 32, was arraigned on a 17-count indictment that includes a felony count of first-degree murder, third-degree burglary and two counts each of second-degree murder and second-degree burglary. He also faces five misdemeanor counts of petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, as well as a count of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Lewis, who also goes by the moniker “Blue,” is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Gruber, a fixture at the Dole Senior Center and an usher at the Greater Centennial AME Zion Church was found dead covered by a piece of plywood and clothes in her basement, on Feb. 12. Police recovered a two-by-four near the body that contained a sample of Gruber’s blood.
The police investigation determined that Gruber, 85, walked in on Lewis. He was accused of stealing copper pipes, a water meter and flat screen television, among other smaller items that could be easily fenced.
Five months after the murder, neighbors said that they still missed seeing their neighbor’s smiling face, but were eager to see the suspect brought to justice.
“Anytime you saw her, whether walking down the street or on her porch, she was there with a smile and a wave, whoever you were,” Mercy Williams said on South Seventh Street. “Everyone knew who she was. This should help the family grieve at least.”
Lewis was initially apprehended on March 3, after a neighbor observed a man burglarizing a garage on South Seventh Street, a block behind his home. The subsequent investigation into that burglary pointed police in the direction of Lewis in connection with Gruber’s murder.
“It’s a not good what we do to one another in this city sometimes,” Ronnie Bethancourt said on Thursday, July 31. “Something needs to be done to avoid things like this, because they happen too often.
The suspect is due back in court on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Assistant District Attorneys Christine O’Connor and Jean Prisco of the Superior Court Trial Division are prosecuting the case.