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Murder charges in deaths of LI mom, tot

Riverhead, NY: Jerry A. Lewis, 24, inside Suffolk

Riverhead, NY: Jerry A. Lewis, 24, inside Suffolk criminal courthouse in Riverhead with his lawyer, where he was arraigned for deaths of Shakeela Planter, and her son, Jaiden on Dec. 23, 2011. (Feb. 21, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

No one had any warning that a North Bay Shore man was about to create "an almost unimaginable scene of horror" as he killed his former girlfriend and her toddler son before fleeing to his mother's home in Maryland, a Suffolk prosecutor said Tuesday at the man's arraignment.

Jerry A. Lewis, 24, is accused of stabbing Shakeela Planter, 21, numerous times in the head and neck, and beating to death her son Jaiden, 2. Lewis wrapped both bodies in plastic and put the boy in the freezer, said Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.

Lewis pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. Suffolk County Court Judge Gary Weber ordered Lewis held without bail. If convicted, Lewis faces a maximum of life in prison without parole.

Kurtzrock said Lewis had no criminal record or history of violence before Dec. 18, when the crime took place. Kurtzrock said there were several "severe bite marks" on the boy's body, and his office would seek a court order for dental impressions from Lewis.

Defense attorney Craig McElwee said his client moaned as he heard the allegations against him. He said he was still unfamiliar with the case, but would investigate if there are any psychological issues involved.

"I would hope there are some, in a case like this," he said.

Planter's family, several of whom drove from Massachusetts early Tuesday, declined to comment. Her mother doubled over, sobbing, in the court hallway.

Kurtzrock said, "I couldn't have imagined anything that legitimately led up to this. It's an unprovoked, violent, vicious crime."

Although Lewis and Planter were no longer in a relationship, Kurtzrock said Lewis still lived there at times.

After the killings, Kurtzrock said Lewis stayed in the North Bay Shore home for several days, mopping the floors, washing Planter's car and wrapping the bodies. He left Planter's body on her bed, Kurtzrock said. Then Lewis took off in Planter's car to Maryland.

While there, Kurtzrock said Lewis confessed to his mother and sister, and they brought him to police on Christmas Eve. When Suffolk homicide detectives came to interview him, he confessed to them, too, Kurtzrock said.

Lewis fought being returned to Suffolk until Friday.


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