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North Bay Shore man, a 'monster,' gets 30 years in murders

Jerry A. Lewis, 25, pleaded guilty to first-degree

Jerry A. Lewis, 25, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder in the December 2011 deaths of his ex-girlfriend Shakeela Planter, 21, and her 23-month-old son Jaiden. (Dec. 27, 2011) Photo Credit: Handout,

A North Bay Shore man was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison Wednesday, minutes after he asked his ex-girlfriend's family to forgive him for killing her and her 23-month-old son.

Jerry A. Lewis spoke in a low whisper as he addressed Shakeela Planter's family, including her parents, who were sitting in the Riverhead courtroom.

"I will never forgive somebody like that," said her father, Winston Planter, 49, of Massachusetts, after the sentencing.

Lewis, 25, had admitted that he stabbed Shakeela Planter, 21, in her North Bay Shore home, many times in the head and neck, and beat her son, Jaiden, to death on Dec. 18, 2011. Prosecutors have said Lewis killed Planter when he found out she was seeing another man, even though their brief relationship was already over.

Authorities said Lewis wrapped both bodies in plastic and put the boy in the freezer. He stayed at the house with the bodies for three days, then drove to Maryland and confessed to his mother and sister, officials said.

The victim's mother, Pamela Planter, told the court that after her daughter moved from Jamaica to the United States in 2009, she worked two jobs to save money so she could one day earn her doctoral degree.

"Shakeela trusted Jerry with her life and also the life of Jaiden Planter, her only child, and that was her only mistake," her mother said.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro imposed the sentence agreed to in a plea deal, saying that, while Lewis appeared polite and contrite in the courtroom, "your actions revealed that you are a monster."

Lewis received two second-degree murder sentences of 15 years to life to run consecutively and a first-degree murder sentence of 25 years to life to run concurrent to both of those.

Before sentencing, Winston Planter read a letter he wrote to the parole board. In it, he said he didn't recognize his daughter because she had been stabbed in the face so many times.

"I will never forget the day at the morgue when I could only identify my sweet, firstborn daughter by a little mark she had on her toe," he said.

Since then, Planter's parents said they have endured many sleepless nights. "Some days I literally have to pinch myself to make sure it's not just a bad dream," Winston Planter said. "It's still hard to believe that this is real, that this really happened," adding they will never again hear the voices of Shakeela or Jaiden, or see their smiles.

He also lamented that the death penalty was not available in New York State, saying that the best he could hope for is for Lewis to spend the rest of his life in prison and not be released on parole, ever.

"I don't believe anyone who can commit such an evil act can be rehabilitated," he said. "No amount of prison time, therapy, schooling . . . will change the monster that he is."

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