Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Elevator Torching Death

He said the victim owed him money for cleaning her apartment.

The man suspected of dousing a 73-year-old woman with gasoline and then setting her on fire inside an elevator said in a statement to police that she owed him money for cleaning her apartment.

Jerome Isaac, of Brooklyn, was arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder Thursday in the death of Deloris Gillespie, and pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors filed paperwork in court that included statements he made to police.

Gillespie "owed me some money for some work I did for her. I told her to give me $300. I was cleaning up her apartment for about four or five months and she never paid me" the statement said.

Gillespie was ambushed in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment last month. The suspect had been waiting for her when the elevator doors opened to the fifth floor, police said.

A security camera captured the horrific scene, and Isaac told police that "if the video wasn't there you would still be looking for me."

He also admitted he was the person in the video and that he set the fire.

Defense attorney Howard Tanner has said he would "evaluate all possible defenses" but has not elaborated.

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