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Trio gets 75 years to life for Bensonhurst murder of civilian NYPD employee

police car men sentenced for murder of nypd civilian
Three men were sentenced on Thursday to lengthy prison sentences for the 2017 murder of a civilian NYPD employee.
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Three men were sentenced to 75 years to life in prison Thursday for the robbery and murder of an NYPD civilian employee in his Bensonhurst home in 2017, announced Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

The three perpetrators left Brownsville at around 4 a.m. on Feb. 8, 2017 and drove to the home of 66-year-old Robert D’Onofrio, where there waited approximately two hours for his daughter to leave and for his home to be unoccupied, according to the DA’s office.

After entering the premises, the trio allegedly stole electronics, jewelry, boxes of ammunition, and other items. They then decided to wait for D’Onofrio to return home to torture him in an attempt to get him to open up a safe that contained firearms.

Evidence showed that one of the defendants, Tanaja Grant of Orlando, Florida, knew D’Onofrio and was texting him throughout the day to confirm his location, who he was with and when he would be returning home. 

When the victim returned home around 5 p.m., Grant and the other two defendants — Abasie Brabam, 31, of Marietta, Georgia, Lee Williams, 30, of Clarksville, Tennessee — allegedly ambushed and tortured him by repeatedly striking him in the head with blunt objects, whipping him across the torso with a weapon consistent with a belt, and dragging him. D’Onofrio was then shot twice, piercing his lung and heart.

“The depravity of this horrific murder can’t be overstated and the lengthy prison terms to which these defendants were sentenced today holds them accountable for torturing and killing an innocent man during a carefully-planned robbery,” said District Attorney Gonzalez in a statement. “While no sentence can return Robert D’Onofrio to his loved ones, I hope this sentence gives some solace to his family and friends.”

D’Onofrio was discovered unresponsive by his daughter inside his Bay 8th Street home, and was rushed to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

He worked as a steam fitter for the Management Facilities Division of the NYPD, a civilian-staffed department responsible for building work, the New York Post reported.

Each of the perpetrators were convicted with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary on April 26, 2022, following a jury trial. Abasie was arrested in 2018, Grant and Williams were arrested in 2019 and a fourth defendant — 32-year-old Derek Simpkins — was arrested in 2017, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision, according to Gonzalez’s office.

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