BY CAROL MCILMURRAY
Rockland County’s first and only convicted Craigslist killer, Dylan Lentini, 20, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years to life for the late night killing of West Nyack man Michael Wimbert, 66.
Judge William A. Kelly chose 20 years to life, as opposed to 25 years to life, due to several signed affidavits claiming the victim, Wimbert, sexually assaulted, molested, and raped several family members and friends. This aligned with the defense’s case that Lentini, only 19-years-old at the time of the killing, was victimized by Wimbert after he responded to Wimbert’s Craigslist ad.
The sentencing took over three hours of court time and Judge William A. Kelly broke for lunch after Dylan Lentini was dragged out of the courtroom by court officers and Sheriffs deputies “due to 12 to 13 physical and emotional outbursts” according to court spectators. According to a supporter and close friend of the Lentini family, Jenna Fling, Lentini lost composure at one point due to Executive District Attorney Dominic A. Crispino recalling evidence that was deemed inadmissible for trial.
A legal insider told the Rockland County Times, “Sentencing is not a trial, evidence that is not admissible in court is permissible for sentencing the convicted…Justices routinely look at victim impact statement, signed affidavits of character, and other evidence, which is not permitted in New York State for trial…Judge Kelly knows and knew what was allowed and what was not allowed at that trial. Lentini behaving in that manner only showed his true nature.”
Discussions of Wimbert’s past caused further reactions from Lentini.
According to Justice Kelly one affidavit claimed Wimbert picked up a young male at the now closed gay nightclub ‘Barz’ in Nyack and stated “he felt woozy as if something was put in his drink. Very similar to what the defendant claimed.”
During the trial Dylan Lentini’s defense team, assigned counsel Ken Murphy and Walter Savoski, claimed Wimbert fed him eggnog upon his arrival to his upstairs apartment at 68 W. Demarest Road in West Nyack. Lentini claimed the eggnog made him woozy as if it was laced with something and then Lentini said Wimbert raped him. Yet Lentini stayed at Wimbert’s for days after the supposed attack.
Another affidavit signed by a neighboring tenant said there were many late night guests at Wimbert’s apartment that resulted in repeated scuffles, melees, and fights.
Judge Kelly said despite the scathing indictments of the victim’s character, there were many inconsistencies in Lentini’s version of events. A lengthy psychology report from local psychiatrist and medication prescriber Marc Tarle did not make the picture any clearer. Dr. Tarle’s six-page report said Lentini’s thoughts were “highly disorganized” and highlighted a number of possible disorders without giving the court a conclusion. Judge Kelly said due to all the outside evidence and circumstances he decided to go right down the middle of the suggested 15 to 25 years to life with a sentencing of 20 years to life.
Judge Kelly noted the presence of “homosexual and heterosexual pornography on [Lentini’s] cell phone” and said “he was in contact with a male in Connecticut in reference to a gay relationship.”
Judge Kelly said that Lentini’s outburst did not influence his decision at all. After sentencing, Judge Kelly explained to Lentini the guidelines to appeal. Justice Kelly is set to retire at the end of the year and Justice Kevin Russo will be taking his courtroom beginning in January.
Lentini indicated that he is very interested in appealing the conviction.
District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said at a press conference outside the courthouse that the DA’s office was very pleased with the outcome of the Lentini trial. Lentini was claimed to have killed in cold blood and stabbed the victim over 30 times.
“We couldn’t tell how many stab wounds there were….there were stab wounds inside of stab wounds…that’s how many times the defendant stabbed [Michael Wimbert]…we counted up to 30 stab wounds,” said Exec. Dominic Crispino
Lentini claimed he was sleeping when Wimbert woke him by attempting to “violate” him and took a kitchen knife and stabbed Wimbert to death. After the stabbing, Lentini showered and dressed in clean clothes. As he exited the apartment, a boarding house neighbor who was smoking a late night cigarette spotted Lentini with a blood hand and Lentini exclaimed, “Call the hospital! Call 911!” as he departed the property.
Police found Lentini and the murder weapon on West Nyack road and Lentini spoke openly with police about Wimbert and how he “had to stab someone.”