Neighbor pleads not guilty to killing 85-year-old grandmother

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Lloyd Lewis is accused of killing his 85-year-old neighbor Emma Gruber in February 2014. (Photo: Westchester County Prosecutor's Office)

NEW YORK (PIX11) — A man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to beating to death his 85-year-old neighbor, whose body was found in her semi-flooded Mount Vernon basement underneath a pile of clothes and a piece of plywood.

Lloyd Lewis, 32, was arraigned Wednesday on a 17-count indictment, including for first- and second-degree murder, burglary, larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance, according to the Westchester County Prosecutor’s Office.

A judge entered the not guilty plea on Lewis’ behalf.

A beloved grandmother whose death galvanized her community, Emma Gruber was last seen alive the afternoon of Feb. 10 after a Senior Center bus dropped her off near her home in Mount Vernon.

The next day, Gruber’s grandson scoured her home looking for her and the day after that her family filed a missing persons report.

On Feb. 12, detectives found the victim’s body inside her home, lying at the bottom of her basement stairs under a large pile of clothes and a piece of plywood.

Her death was ultimately ruled a homicide by blunt force trauma. A two-by-four piece of wood found near Gruber’s body was splattered with her blood.

It also looked as though Gruber had been robbed.

Her basement was flooded because her water meter and copper pipes had been cut and stolen, prosecutors said. Her 32-inch flat screen TV was gone, too.

Investigators were led to Lewis after he allegedly burglarized a detached garage in the same neighborhood where he and Gruber lived, prosecutors said.

They then determined he had sold pieces of the victim’s jewelry at a pawn shop. Pipes, cords, a water meter brass pitcher and brass elephant statue that belonged to Gruber were sold at a scrap yard.

Lewis was arrested March 3 on suspicion of third-degree burglary and ultimately connected to Gruber’s slaying.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Lewis is scheduled to next appear in court Oct. 29.