A Brooklyn man was arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend one day after he was released from Rikers Island prison, where he had been serving a sentence for sexual abuse and domestic violence charges.
Jerome Rivers, 52, was accused of strangling the woman at her Ozone Park home. He was charged with murder and two separate counts of criminal contempt of court. Rivers could face a prison sentence of between 25 years and life if convicted.
A judge had issued an order of protection that barred Rivers from contacting or going near Gia Pender, 49, until Jan. 28. Rivers and Pender were involved in several domestic incidents between 2014 and July this year.
Prosecutors said Rivers violated the order of protection by calling Pender more than once from jail. He had also contacted her on his release day to ask if he could stay with her. Although Pender agreed to Rivers’ request, she told a neighbor to give her credit cards and other personal belongings to her mother in case “anything happens.”
According to the complaint, Rivers called 911 the next morning to report that Pender was hurt. He told investigators he woke up after hearing a thumping sound and discovered that she was unconscious on the floor. Paramedics pronounced Pender dead at the scene. An autopsy showed she had been strangled.
Rivers told the authorities he blamed Pender for the domestic violence charges for which he was imprisoned. However, he insisted he did not have any reason to murder her.
In New York, individuals who violate a temporary or permanent order of protection could face further restrictions and jail time as it is a criminal contempt charge. The attorneys at Brill Legal Group are experienced in dealing with such cases and know how to show that the individual did not possess ill intent or violate the order on purpose.