It was the move of a lifetime.
A year ago Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne emigrated to the United States all the way from the South Anerican nation of Guyana.
Browne settled in Brooklyn and found work in a Manhattan department store. The plan was that once her husband Dale’s paperwork was completed, he and the couple’s four children would pick up and move from Guyana, too, and join Chinelle in the U.S.
But that day never came.
Instead, Dale Browne found himself outside a Long Island courthouse Thursday reading a Bible verse before describing the devastating pain of hearing a prosecutor read aloud the final words his wife screamed before her brutal murder — which included her decapitation and dismemberment.
“I trust God,” Browne said, after flying from Guyana for the hearing, reported WNBC-TV in New York. “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.”
Then Browne talked about hearing his 28-year-old wife’s last words: “No…! No…! What you doing? Oh no! Oh no! . . . I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” the New York Post reported, citing the prosecutor.
“What hurt the most is when the prosecutor described the words that she screamed out,” Dale Browne said, according to WNBC. “I can hear those words, you know? Pretty animalistic. Just a beast that did this.”
A prosecutor said Leah Cuevas, 42, carried out the July 5 murder in which Browne was repeatedly stabbed, then decapitated and dismembered.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla added that Cuevas dumped Browne’s head and other body parts in various spots around Long Island, WNBC reported.
Cuevas — who lived in the apartment below Browne — was “pretending to be the landlord” after the building’s real owner passed away last year, the Post reported, citing the prosecutor.
The Post added that Cuevas hasn’t been charged with defrauding any tenants.
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She collected rent despite the building’s lack of hot water and scant electricity — and Browne finally got fed up and decided to stop paying.
She wanted to move out of the dilapidated Sumpter Street building — and Cuevas became furious.
Things got so bad that on the night before the slaying, the NYPD had to separate the two women.
The following night, Cuevas approached Browne in her apartment and tried to give her one last chance to pay up.
When she refused, Cuevas attacked her, stabbing her repeatedly in the throat and chest until she decapitated Browne.
Then neighbors heard blood-curdling screams, the Post said. A witness said she heard Cuevas yell an expletive telling Browne to “shut up,” WNBC reported.
Soon Browne’s body parts began showing up.
Her dismembered torso was found in a wooded lot on July 9, authorities told the Post, while her severed legs were found nearby. Days later her arms were found in separate yards in Hempstead, about 25 miles west of Bay Shore, the Post added. Browne’s severed head was discovered at another home July 17, the Post said, citing prosecutors.
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An autopsy determined that Browne died of “homicidal violence,” including multiple stabbing and incise wounds, Biancavilla said. He added Browne’s blood was found in Cuevas’s apartment and in a hallway.
He did not say whether a murder weapon was recovered, but police noted in a press release announcing the arrest that the investigation remained “active.”
Cuevas was arrested Wednesday and ordered held without bail in Suffolk County District Court on Long Island after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder Thursday, WNBC said.
Judge G. Ann Spelman ordered that Cuevas be remanded without bail, saying she was charged with “the worst conduct that humans can be capable of,” the Post reported.
This story has been updated.