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MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN BLUDGEONING

James Workman, whose crime record spans the country over two decades and ended in Buffalo with a murder, will again see the inside of a prison for a long period of time.

A judge ordered him Friday to serve a prison term of 25 years to life for the bludgeoning of his girlfriend in a downtown hotel room they rented two years ago.

State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti imposed the maximum prison term on Workman, 37, for the murder of 56-year-old Barbara Lowell.

The judge said he was troubled about how the Portland, Maine, grandmother "fell under your spell" and took a cross-country bus trip with Workman.

Trudy Hamilton, Ms. Lowell's sister-in-law, described Workman as "true evil."

A prosecutor characterized him as a predator and called him a constant danger to society.

Workman declined to comment during the sentencing, but smiled broadly as sheriff's deputies took him from court.

Workman was returned to Buffalo from California, where he was serving a parole violation term for a 1980 burglary-sodomy attack on a Los Angeles woman. Workman was convicted Sept. 12 of bludgeoning Ms. Lowell in their rented room at the Hotel Lafayette.

On Dec. 9, 1994, after Workman had returned to his native Dayton, Ky., workers at the hotel on Washington Street found Ms. Lowell's nude and badly decomposed body on the bed in the fifth-floor room she and Workman had rented a week earlier.

Prosecutor Joseph J. Marusak said Ms. Lowell was killed with a brass lamp that Workman had wiped clean of fingerprints and left next to the bed where her body was found.

Workman was ultimately arrested because his fingerprints were found on the light bulb he had taken off the brass lamp before the beating and discarded in a trash can in the room. There also was DNA evidence on the sheets of the bed, Marusak said.

Mrs. Hamilton, who came to Buffalo from Portland for the sentencing, told the judge that if Workman had been up for the death penalty for the killing she would have asked for permission to carry out that penalty herself.

She told the judge that Ms. Lowell, a widow who began dating Workman about six months before her murder, was "vulnerable" because the ailing man she had been caring for had died and her four children all were living away from home.

Anthony C. LoTempio, the court-appointed lawyer for Workman, who had three felony convictions by the time he was 17, said his latest conviction will be appealed.

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