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Man gets 30 to life for murder

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Duane Brown, 20, of 167-14 Foch Blvd., pleaded guilty April 6 to murder in the first and second...

By Betsy Scheinbart

A 20-year-old Jamaica man was sentenced to 30 years to life last Wednesday for murdering and robbing a 73-year-old neighbor who had tried to befriend him.

Duane Brown, 20, of 167-14 Foch Blvd., pleaded guilty April 6 to murder in the first and second degrees in the death of Lillian Hollingsworth, a retired city social worker who lived on his block for a year and a few blocks away at the time he killed her.

Brown was sentenced May 30 to 25 years to life in jail for murder and five years for burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and tampering with physical evidence by state Supreme Court Judge Robert Hanophy.

“I’ve never seen a pair of eyes with more hate,” Hanophy said at the sentencing in Kew Gardens.

Hollingsworth’s son and daughter, Julius and Renee Hollingsworth, did not feel justice had been served in court.

“Thirty years isn’t enough,” Julius said. “He should have to come out when he’s as old as she was,” Renee said of the murderer. Her mother was nearly 74 years old when she died.

The fact that Brown knew their mother, who had reached out to him and many other young people in the neighborhood, made the murder even harder to understand, Renee and Julius Hollingsworth said. Brown even referred to the victim as “Ms. Lillian” during his testimony, they said.

“He could have walked away, tied her up, or locked her in the closet instead of stabbing her 11 times,” they said. “He showed no pity.”

Their mother was very active in her long retirement, they said. She was a member of the Allen A.M.E. Church in Jamaica for about 40 years and sang in the church choir.

Hollingsworth had friends not only in her church but also at two neighborhood senior centers, which she frequently visited. She held trophies for bowling and loved to play cards.

Her garden of magnolias, azaleas, rhododendron and giant peonies still blooms in front of her single-family home on 169th Street, despite her absence. A neighbor who wished not to be identified said she brightened the whole neighborhood and encouraged children to stay in school.

Julius Hollingsworth said his mother was known as “The Sunshine Lady” because she always cheered the sick and the mourning. She was a breast cancer survivor who had been cancer free for 11 years.

Julius is petitioning local legislators to adopt a Colorado law that puts a harsher penalty on those convicted of violent crimes against senior citizens and blind or disabled people, who are less likely to be able to defend themselves against an attack, he said.

According to the district attorney, the defendant entered Hollingsworth’s home at about 1:30 a.m. Feb. 16, 2000, to steal whatever valuables he could find.

Hollingsworth was awakened by a noise on her landing and got out of bed to find an intruder crouching with a knife. She screamed and he began stabbing her, the DA said.

The defendant took the keys to her car and fled in her gray Hyundai. Police traced the vehicle, which led to the arrest of Brown the next day, the district attorney said.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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