BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) – A Brooklyn man was sentenced to prison for killing his romantic adversary and then setting his corpse on fire, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Wednesday.  

Derek Whitaker, 58, of Bedford- Stuyvesant, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of 55-year-old Jonathan Blake.  

“The depravity of the defendant’s actions cannot be overstated, and the lengthy prison term to which he has been sentenced holds him accountable for killing an innocent man,” Gonzalez said. “While nothing can return Jonathan Blake to his loved ones, I hope this sentence provides them with some measure of solace.” 

Whitaker was convicted on June 16 and sentenced on Wednesday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun for second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence, and concealment of a human corpse. 

According to prosecutors, Whitaker ambushed Blake in March 2020. He shot Blake in the head and then later transported the victim’s body to the basement of a building at 494 Jefferson Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he worked as a superintendent. 

A few days after Whitaker shot Blake, he attempted to cover up the killing by setting fire to the victim’s corpse using gasoline. A resident of the building smelled smoke and went to the basement, where they witnessed the defendant standing over a metal barrel with the victim’s two legs sticking out.  

The resident reported the incident to the building’s manager, who called the authorities. Members of the FDNY and the NYPD arrived at the scene and Whitaker was arrested shortly after. 

An investigation later revealed the two men were romantic rivals and that Whitaker had been stalking the victim for four to six months. Investigators also discovered Whitaker attended a service at a church in Westchester County where the victim and his family worshipped. Whitaker embraced the victim’s brother, at a church service.

It remains unclear who the love interest was.