FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 45 Years to Life in Prison
For Murder of Manhattan Chef
Victim was Stabbed Multiple Times; Defendant Set Fire to Cover Up Crime
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 45 years to life in prison following his conviction last month on charges of murder, burglary and arson stemming from the January 2016 stabbing death of a popular Manhattan chef inside his home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The defendant, who fled following the stabbing, was apprehended in Virginia after four months on the run.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Romulo Heras was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and a popular chef whose life was tragically taken during a burglary that this defendant needlessly escalated to an arson and murder. He’s now been convicted and sentenced for his actions.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jahkeem Scott, 21, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to 45 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder, second-degree arson and first-degree burglary last month following a jury trial.
The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on January 22, 2016 at approximately 9 a.m., the defendant entered the victim’s home through a window on the first floor. The victim, Romulo Heras, 61, was a nighttime chef at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and was home asleep at the time.
The defendant, intent on committing a burglary, stabbed the victim 31 times about the body, neck and head. Prior to leaving the apartment, the defendant stole numerous items from the victim’s home, according to the evidence.
Surveillance video footage from inside the apartment building depicts the defendant carrying a laundry bag of items as he leaves the victim’s building, the evidence showed.
To cover up the murder and burglary, the defendant set six separate fires to Heras’s apartment. The victim’s body was discovered by members of the New York City Fire Department who responded to the fire.
The defendant fled to Virginia after the crime and was apprehended in May 2016.
The District Attorney thanked New York City Police Department Detective Joseph Tillotson of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad, Detective Rudy Lahens of the 75th Precinct Detective Squad, and Fire Marshal Vincent Lorenzo of the New York Fire Department for their work on the investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Daniel Murphy, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.