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Friend testifies dismemberment defendant had heavy suitcase

Leah Cuevas, right, is charged with second-degree murder,

Leah Cuevas, right, is charged with second-degree murder, accused of killing her neighbor Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne, left, over a dispute about rent and a utility payment. Credit: Facebook; SCPD

A former Brentwood man testified Thursday at Leah Cuevas' murder trial that he drove her to Bay Shore -- one of several places where authorities said Cuevas disposed of a neighbor's body parts after killing and dismembering the young mother in the summer of 2014.

Faidy Jacques, 60, who until recently lived in Brentwood, said he came home from work July 7, 2014, and found Cuevas, his friend, in his backyard.

"She had something like a suitcase," Jacques told jurors before Suffolk County Court Judge John J. Toomey Jr. in Riverhead.

The suitcase -- which prosecutors said contained body parts belonging to Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne, 28, a Brooklyn mother of four children -- was covered with a large, black plastic bag.

Cuevas is charged with second-degree murder, accused of killing Browne over a dispute about rent and a utility payment. Suffolk prosecutors said Cuevas hacked off Browne's head, arms and legs and disposed of them in Bay Shore and Hempstead.

One of Cuevas' attorneys, Mary-Elizabeth Abbate of North Babylon, said Cuevas and Browne argued and fought July 5, 2014, but Cuevas did not kill Browne.

Jacques' testimony Thursday focused mostly on the suitcase, which prosecutors said was the same one an Uber driver testified Wednesday he saw Cuevas carry from her Sumpter Street apartment in Brooklyn when he picked her up July 7, 2014, and drove her to Brentwood.

"Was it heavy?" Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla asked Jacques.

"Yes," he replied.

Jacques said he helped Cuevas put the suitcase in his BMW. Cuevas provided directions, and Jacques dropped her off at a parking lot at Gibson Avenue and Maple Avenue in Bay Shore, where, three days later, Browne's torso and legs were discovered in the overgrown grass.

"Did you know what was in the bag?" Biancavilla asked.

"No, sir," Jacques replied.

Jacques said Cuevas told him to come back and pick her up in 15 to 20 minutes, which he did.

"She didn't have anything with her?" Biancavilla asked. "No suitcase?"

"No, sir," Jacques said.

The trial resumes Tuesday.

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