A judge ordered that a Brooklyn woman held without bail after she was arraigned for killing her roommate and then dismembering her body before leaving the parts all over Long Island. District Court Judge G. Ann Spelman said Leah Cuevas, 42, was "charged with the worst conduct that humans can be capable of."
Suffolk County prosecutors say that Cuevas had rented out a room to Chinelle Latoya Browne, 27, in her Brooklyn apartment. From Newsday:
Witnesses to their final argument told investigators Cuevas was "pretending" to be the landlord and had been collecting $400 a month from Browne for four to five months, according to court papers.
The building didn't have hot water, and a cord from the apartment prosecutors said Cuevas shared with her husband supplied the only electricity, which would periodically be shut off, according to court records.
Browne eventually learned that Cuevas was not the landlord and the two had argued, said a law enforcement source who did not want to be identified.
Witnesses say they heard Browne crying out, "No, Lee! No, Lee! What you doing? Oh no! Oh no! ... I’m sorry, I’m sorry," before screaming. Prosecutors allege that Cuevas decapitated Browne; Browne's blood was found in Cuevas' apartment and hallway. One neighbor Donald Watson told WCBS 2, "We heard all the argument, and we never knew that it escalated to this," while another said of Cuevas, "She was mean lady. She want to fight with everybody."
Body parts, including the arms and the head, were found in four different locations in Bay Shore and Hempstead earlier this month. Detectives believed the body to be Browne's because a tattoo on an arm matched one of hers.
Watson also spoke to the Daily News, "(Browne) was tired of paying for lighting and having it go out, or the refrigerator going out and spoiling the food. (Browne) said she wanted to take her money and move out but the landlord said, ‘No.’ She wanted the $200 ... but Browne said, ‘I need the $200 to move out.’" The News adds, "Browne also accused Cuevas of having sex with a man on a city bus, allegations made in front of Cuevas’ husband, court documents show."
Browne came to New York from Guyana, where she left behind her husband and four children. Dale Browne said that his wife was looking for an apartment so the rest of the family could join her, "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... 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."