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Long Island man admits killing woman and toddler

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) -

A man admitted Tuesday to fatally stabbing a former girlfriend and bludgeoning the woman's 2-year-old son to death before leaving both bodies in a Long Island apartment where they were found days later by police.

Jerry A. Lewis, 25, of North Bay Shore, pleaded guilty in a Long Island courtroom to first- and second-degree murder.

Suffolk County Court Judge Richard Ambro promised Lewis a prison sentence of 30 years to life when he is sentenced April 3.

If Lewis had proceeded to trial and been convicted by a jury, he could have faced a term of life without parole, said Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.

In court, Lewis admitted he repeatedly stabbed 21-year-old Shakeela Planter in December 2011 in the woman's North Bay Shore apartment. Lewis and Planter had an on-again, off-again relationship at the time of the killing, the prosecutor said.

"According to his confession, she was seeing some other guy and he got jealous," Kurtzrock said.

Lewis also admitted beating to death Planter's son, Jaiden. The boy had wounds all over his body including a skull fracture and severe injuries to his heart, according to Kurtzrock.

The prosecutor said Lewis admitted that he left Planter's body wrapped in plastic on her bed and stashed the child's remains in a plastic bag in a freezer. The bodies were found when Planter's co-workers at Huntington Hospital became concerned about her absence from work and called police.

Officers went to the North Bay Shore apartment, where they found the murder victims.

After the killings, Lewis fled to his mother's home in Maryland, where she persuaded him to surrender.

Members of the victims' family are expected to make statements to the judge when Lewis is sentenced, Kurtzrock said.

The prosecutor said Lewis, a native of Jamaica, had no prior arrest record.

Defense attorney Craig McElwee said his client opted to take the plea to prevent both his and the victims' families from the ordeal of a trial. "He made a decision not to put them through that and decided to take responsibility," the lawyer said.

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