Judge Says Man Who Set Woman Ablaze Must Be Examined Before Sentencing

The man who set a woman ablaze in an elevator last December — brutally killing her just steps from her apartment — said that he had heard voices and that the devil had told him what to do, a Brooklyn State Supreme Court judge said on Friday.

The man, Jerome Isaac, 48, made these statements after waiving an insanity defense and pleading guilty last month to first-degree murder and second-degree arson.

Mr. Isaac faces at least 50 years in prison.

But on Friday, as Mr. Isaac prepared to be sentenced, the judge, Justice Vincent Del Giudice, cited a probation report that detailed Mr. Isaac’s statements and delayed the hearing. Mr. Isaac needed to undergo an examination of his mental health before he could be sentenced, Justice Del Guidice said.

“I want to be sure he’s competent,” he said.

Mr. Isaac’s lawyer, Howard Tanner, said he believed Mr. Isaac was competent.

“He’s been remorseful throughout this process,” Mr. Tanner said, adding that Mr. Isaac had pleaded guilty to “spare the family any further trauma.”

At one point, a daughter of the victim, Deloris Gillespie, burst into tears.

“Several doctors already examined him,” the daughter, Sheila Gillespie-Hillsman said in an interview, adding, “I just want to get this over with.”

Relatives and authorities said the killing stemmed from a disagreement over money: Ms. Gillespie had hired Mr. Isaac to help her clean out her three-bedroom apartment in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn.

But when Ms. Gillespie came to believe that Mr. Isaac was stealing from her, she fired him.

On Dec. 17, 2011, two surveillance cameras at Ms. Gillespie’s apartment building captured Mr. Isaac with a gas canister, and wearing white gloves and a surgical mask. As Ms. Gillespie was about to exit the elevator, near her fifth-floor apartment, Mr. Isaac sprayed her with an accelerant, then tossed a Molotov cocktail inside.

Mr. Isaac later told the authorities that Ms. Gillespie owed him $2,000.

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Big Ticket | Sold for $22.5 Million

The most livable of the antiquated and somewhat ghostly trio of apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue once owned, but rarely occupied, by the reclusive copper heiress Huguette M. Clark sold for $22.5 million, the most expensive sale of the week, according to city records. Mrs. Clark died in May at age 104, leaving two wills, a $400 million fortune and no direct heirs.

The co-op has three bedrooms, six and a half baths and three fireplaces, but most important, it offers a full 100 feet of prime frontage on Fifth Avenue opposite Central Park. The formidable views and inherent grandeur, though, amount to virtually the only aspect of the apartment that does not demand extensive renovation. The place also has a monthly maintenance fee of $14,176.

The buyer, Frederick J. Iseman, the chairman of CI Capital Partners, a private equity firm, paid above the $19 million asking price for No. 8W because he was permitted to annex one room and a part of a hallway at the adjacent No. 8E, the smallest of Mrs. Clark’s holdings there and the only apartment that has yet to attract a qualified buyer. That two-bedroom, two-bath unit had been listed at $12 million, but there will be a downward adjustment in price when it is returned to the market in January.

In addition to its nonpareil location in a 1915 Italianate palazzo building designed by J.E.R. Carpenter, the most appealing features of No. 8E include a 47-foot-long gallery, soaring ceilings and a corner living room.

The first of the apartments that sold, her Louis XVI-style penthouse, happened to be the only one of the three in which Mrs. Clark actually lived, in antisocial splendor, attended by servants and a multimillion-dollar collection of dolls: No. 12W was snatched up in July by Boaz Weinstein, a hedge-fund whiz kid, for $25.5 million, $1.5 million above the asking price. Mrs. Clark, of her own volition, spent the final decades of her life in a hospital room and died at Beth Israel Medical Center.

Although the prime minister of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, had made Mrs. Clark’s estate what he hoped was a pre-emptive offer of $31.5 million for both eighth-floor co-ops, the notoriously fussy co-op board at 907 Fifth refused to entertain the notion of combining the units.

Mary Rutherfurd and Leslie Coleman of Brown Harris Stevens again represented the estate, and Roberta Golubock of Sotheby’s International Realty handled the transaction for Mr. Iseman.

In the same price range, but in far superior condition, a five-bedroom town house at 116 East 70th Street, a tranquil block distinguished by its exquisite architecture and celebrity residents, sold for $22,398,750 to Susan Weber Soros, the former wife of the billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The 1869 town house, its facade dominated by two levels of copper-clad bow windows above fluted columns, was originally listed at $26 million in 2010. When the price was reduced to $22.5 million this year, a smitten Mrs. Soros, the founder of the Bard College Graduate Center for the decorative arts, bought it and blithely listed her splashy corner apartment at the Majestic at 115 Central Park West, No. 19E/F, for $50 million.

What she is parting with, besides her Philippe Starck-designed interiors and furniture, which are included in the deal along with a separate staff unit, are park views from every principal room and a master suite with a terrace that fronts the park.

What she is gaining, besides the potential for amusement in having Woody Allen as a neighbor, is a light-catching five-level home with four outdoor spaces and a glass breakfast solarium leading to a 26-foot-deep garden.

“You can’t hit a wrong note on that street,” said Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens, who represented the absentee sellers, identified as Copper House, a limited-liability company based in Wellington, Fla. S. Christopher Halstead of Halstead Property represented Mrs. Soros; he is also the listing agent for her very available 11-room spread at the Majestic.

Big Ticket includes closed sales from the previous week, ending Wednesday.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 30, 2012

An earlier version of this post misstated the former listing price of No. 8E at 907 Fifth Avenue. It was $12 million, not $9 million. The post also incorrectly described the living room in No. 8E. It does not have park views.

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Defining the Subway

Dear Diary:

Subway (noun):

The underground place of transformation from weary cynic to believer; where you meet a 7-year-old boy to your right who asks you for a helpful hint on his puzzle as he gently kicks your leg as the train rocks along, while on your left, a lady helps shush your baby back to sleep.

The place where you rush after having stood impatiently in line in the punishing cold for an egg white and cheese on a roll — the line that sentenced you to a late arrival at work; where the memory of all that vanishes, and you quietly give your breakfast away without a second thought.

Where a complete stranger with a perhaps not so very clean hat just might nod off on your shoulder, someone who is already done with their day’s work before yours even begins, and you decide you don’t even really mind at all; the place from where you emerge, blinking in the daylight on the busy street above, renewing your vow to take better care of your neighbors.

Whoever said New York was too cold and rushed and rude for their liking has never been to my New York.

Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: (212) 556-1333. Follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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Escaped Zebra Is Now in Relocation Program

And what of Razzi the runaway zebra?

When we left him on Wednesday evening, Razzi, a 4-month-old foal who lives on Staten Island, had returned from his unauthorized tour of the neighborhood in the company of his friend and mentor Casper the pony and was resting quietly on the property of his owner, Giovanni Schirripa.

But the animals’ brief escape attracted the attention of the authorities.

On Thursday, said Chanel Caraway, a spokeswoman for the city health department, “a health inspector visited the property, but did not find a zebra.”

That’s because Razzi has moved to New Jersey, Mr. Schirripa said.

“The zebra’s not here no more,” he said by phone, adding that he took him Wednesday night to a barn near Phillipsburg where he keeps some of his horses.

Mr. Schirripa said he thought inspectors might have been concerned about the conditions the zebra was living in. Possibly, he became mindful that the health department said Wednesday night that he did not have the required permit to keep a zebra on his property (no such permit is required to keep a pony for personal use, the health department said).

Mr. Schirripa said the inspectors told him there was nothing they could do if the zebra wasn’t there.

Casper could not be reached for comment about the departure of his friend.

It was not immediately clear if New Jersey requires any sort of license for private ownership of a zebra. The species is not on the state list of exotic and nongame species that require a permit.

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CRI announces affiliations with two well-known academics

Dover-The Caesar Rodney Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to providing scientific and economic analyses to public policy issues, is pleased to announce the affiliation of two well-known academics to our ranks: Willie Soon, PhD and David R. Legates, PhD.

Dr. Soon will join CRI to provide research related to public policy issues impacted by the climate.

Soon is an astrophysicist and a geoscientist based in Salem, Massachusetts, doing research for the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.  His area of specialty is in solar and stellar physics for New Astronomy. He is the author of the book “The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun-Earth Connection” and is a co-author of the textbook “Introduction to Astronomy”.  He has provided expert testimony in front of the United States Senate and was recognized for “detailed scholarship on biogeological and climatic change over the past 1000 years” by the Smithsonian Institution.

He received his PhD  from the University of Southern California. Dr. Soon was awarded the Rockwell Dennis Hunt award from Southern California University in 1991. He was given the Petr Beckmann Award from the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness for “courage and achievement in defense of scientific truth and freedom.”

David R. Legates, PhD will become a member of CRI’s  Advisory Council and will collaborate with Dr. Soon in developing and presenting CRI’s positions on public policy issues influenced by climate.

Dr. Legates is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware and served as the Delaware State Climatologist from 2005 to 2011. He also is an adjunct faculty in the Statistics Program. He received his Doctorate in Climatology in 1988 from the University of Delaware.  He has been invited twice to appear before the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and has given more than 120 invited professional presentations. He is recognized as a Certified Consulting Meteorologist by the American Meteorological Society.

For more information contact:

Samuel Friedman

Communications Coordinator

[email protected]

(302) 734-2700

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A Life Dedicated to Pursuing Nazis, and Remembering Their Victims

As Serge Klarsfeld tells it, he had the “luck” to see his father and other French Jews in Nazi-occupied Nice carted off to Auschwitz by Germans. It spared him the pain of seeing them rounded up, as often happened, by their own French countrymen. Since Sept. 30, 1943, when he huddled behind a secret closet wall with his mother and sister while his father was seized by the SS for deportation and death, Mr. Klarsfeld, now a prominent French lawyer, has dedicated his life to memorializing victims of the Holocaust and bringing their killers to justice, most notably the notorious Gestapo chief in France, Klaus Barbie.

The quest, pursued alongside his German-born, non-Jewish wife, Beate, and their son, Arno, brought him and Arno Monday night to New York University in Greenwich Village with a monumental new work of documentation, a colossal volume of 12 inches by 19 inches weighing some 18 pounds, as intractable and chilling as the mass murders it chronicles.

“True emotion comes from precision,” Mr. Klarsfeld has said. “You have not to be guided by hand to the emotion.”

We’ll get to the book, but first the man himself who drew 300 avid listeners to a talk co-sponsored by the N.Y.U. Center for French Civilization and Culture and the N.Y.U. School of Law. Whatever a Nazi-hunter (or “militant of memory,” as he prefers to call himself) is supposed to look like, he doesn’t. At 76, he is portly with glasses, a balding dome and frizz of white hair. Oh, and the rosette of a commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur in the buttonhole of his blue pinstripe suit.

For Arno, 46, a high-ranking French judge who lived for a time with Carla Bruni, the model who is now Mrs. Nicolas Sarkozy, it was a kind of homecoming; he attended law school at N.Y.U.

In fluid English with a pronounced French accent, Mr. Klarsfeld, in conversation with Peter Hellman, a journalist and friend who profiled the Klarsfelds in The New York Times Sunday magazine in 1979, said his family’s fate mirrored that of France’s 350,000 prewar Jews. Almost a quarter were murdered. In his little family of four, three-quarters, too, survived.

Meeting his German wife-to-be, Beate Künzel, daughter of a Wehrmacht soldier, in the Paris metro in 1960 forged a powerful alliance. “We were weak individually,” he said. “Together, we had the strength of the Jewish people and Germany together.” One of their first exploits, he recounted, was infiltrating Mrs. Klarsfeld into the West German Bundestag in Bonn on Nov. 7, 1968, where she publicly confronted and slapped Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, whose history as an early Nazi Party member and radio propagandist had been largely ignored.

The shocking and symbolic act — a postwar generation’s rebuke to its Nazi elders — was particularly risky amid the security mania that followed the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but it sealed Kiesinger’s political demise. Mrs. Klarsfeld served four months of a year’s sentence but won striking vindication this year as a protest candidate of a small leftist party for president of Germany.

I was a Times correspondent in Bonn in 1968-69 and vividly remember the uproar. I subsequently kept in touch with the Klarsfelds myself and consulted them when searching for the possible hide-out of the long-missing Auschwitz doctor, Josef Mengele, who later turned out to have drowned in Brazil in 1979. His secretly buried body was exhumed and conclusively identified in 1985.

With the same savvy agitprop that gained the civil rights movement its leverage to transform American society, the Klarsfelds kept shaming German and French authorities with their unexpiated wartime sins. Tracking down the former Gestapo chief Kurt Lischka, who was living peacefully in Cologne in 1973, Mr. Klarsfeld held a gun to his head, before laughing and walking away.

“We show you we can kill criminals but don’t want to,” Mr. Klarsfeld explained at N.Y.U. “But if you don’t judge them, it will happen.”

In what Mr. Hellman called “a scene out of the Marx brothers,” the Klarsfelds also sought to kidnap Lischka from a trolley stop. After the comical plot unraveled — the hulking ex-Nazi proved too tall to knock out with a billy club — Mrs. Klarsfeld presented herself to the police demanding to be arrested. Lischka was finally tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years.

Mr. Klarsfeld said he was particularly honored to have forced France to come to terms with its collaborationist history. At this year’s annual commemoration at the Vel d’Hiver, where French Jews were rounded up for deportation to Auschwitz, President François Hollande declared, “The truth is that this crime was committed in France, by France.”

But his proudest accomplishment, Mr. Klarsfeld said, lay on a reception table at the law school: an updated version of his masterwork, Le Mémorial de la Déportation des Juifs de France, a giant coffee-table volume that now for the first time lists all 76,000 deported Jews by family name and address, even if they were separated on different death trains. His previous books recorded the victims by convoy number and provided many of their photos, particularly the children.

“All the narratives of the Holocaust pale in comparison,” said Mr. Hellman.

Mr. Klarsfeld said because the book cost as much as $121 to mail from France he was able to provide copies only to the New York Public Library, and Jewish and academic institutions.

Ralph Preiss, 82, a retired computer engineer, traveled from Poughkeepsie to hear Mr. Klarsfeld and afterward hunched over the book searching for relatives. He found them grouped under Wohl — Erna, Erich, Frank and Ernst, at 4 Gabrielle D’Estrées in Paris. They had fled Berlin in 1934 to seek refuge in France. One day, Mr. Preiss said, “they disappeared from their apartment.”

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After 460 Weeks of Protests, the Grannies Call It a Day

Sometimes the news is what didn’t happen. It is worth noting, then, that Joan Wile and her cadre of graying activists did not stand curbside on Fifth Avenue late Wednesday afternoon in protest against America’s wars.

The Day

Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.

In mid-November, after an almost-unbroken run of Wednesday vigils going back nearly nine years, this group, known as Grandmothers Against the War, decided to call it a day.

What had gotten them started, the war in Iraq, was over. While the other war, in Afghanistan, does go on, it draws ever scanter attention. That was the case even in the presidential campaign. (Headline in The Onion two weeks ago: “Nation Horrified to Learn About War in Afghanistan While Reading Up on Petraeus Sex Scandal.”) By now, Ms. Wile said, President Obama “doesn’t need us to urge him” to speed up the withdrawal of American forces.

Besides, interests changed within her ranks. Some of her fellow grannies, as these women in their 70s, 80s and even 90s call themselves, turned to the Occupy movement. Others have focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And then there is that relentless tyrant called time.

If old age, as they say, is not for sissies, it is also not optimal for standing on the street for an hour — week after week, rain or shine, in numbing cold or pitiless heat, come hell or high water.

Actually, high water was one thing that stopped the grannies. On Oct. 31, the Wednesday after Hurricane Sandy hit, there was no way for many of them to make it to their usual protest site, the Fifth Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Center.

The only other time they could not take up their positions was in early December 2009. It wasn’t for want of trying. But the police turned them away because the annual Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center was that evening.

Those interruptions aside, theirs was quite a display of nonstop determination — 460 Wednesdays, starting on Jan. 14, 2004, 10 months after the Bush administration went to war in Iraq, supposedly to prevent Saddam Hussein from ever using the arsenal of unconventional weapons he didn’t have.

Still, nothing lasts forever (even if war seems to). Frankly, “it’s a relief not to have to stand there for an hour any longer,” said Ms. Wile, a singer and songwriter who is 81. “Old bones do not take too well to such activity.”

“Do you know why I started it?” she said, meaning the weekly vigil. “I saw a picture in Time magazine of a young Baghdad boy, a 12-year-old boy named Ali who had lost his arms, was horribly burned all over his body and whose entire nuclear family was killed by our bombs. That’s what motivated me. I just said, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ I was tossing and turning right after that, and the idea hit me: Grandmothers Against the War.”

At times, dozens stood with her. Not all were grannies. Men took part, too, including veterans of the Vietnam War. But “by the end,” Ms. Wile said, “we were down to seven to nine people — pretty small.”

The reaction to them could be icy, to put it mildly. At an early protest, in February 2004, a man walking by pointed a finger at the women and made a motion as if he were firing a gun. The demonstrators shrugged it off. “His aim was bad,” one of them, Judith Cartisano, said to me back then.

Ms. Wile recalled “a lot of heckling in the beginning.”

“The thing that they threw at us most often was, ‘You’re a traitor,’” she said. “Another was ‘Remember 9/11.’ They linked 9/11 with Iraq. It hurt to be called traitors, but what can you do?” Some of the taunting was truly in-your-face. The Army veterans in her group, she said, “almost came to blows with particularly nasty hecklers several times.”

But over the years, not coincidentally as the wars grew ever more unpopular, noxious comments faded. “Maybe one or two people would argue, but not with that nasty implication,” Ms. Wile said. “And people from other countries” — especially Europeans — “were always very supportive.”

With songs and speeches, the grannies held their final vigil on Nov. 14. Some of them gathered in Midtown one more time on Wednesday evening for a farewell dinner.

Mission accomplished, to use a discredited phrase? Not really, not with “all those people still fighting and dying in Afghanistan,” Ms. Wile said.

“But I think we helped jump start the anti-Iraq war movement here in the city,” she said. “We threw some seeds in the air, and maybe they landed somewhere and sprouted.”

E-mail Clyde Haberman: [email protected]

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