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Murder suspect turns down plea in restaurant owner's fatal beating

Jamell Chapman is charged with murder in the fatal beating of a 78-year-old East Side restaurant owner.

Jamell Chapman, charged with two counts of murder and robbery in the beating death of an East Side restaurant owner last summer, on Thursday turned down an offer to plead guilty to one count of second-degree murder.

As a result, Assistant District Attorney John P. Feroleto said his office will re-present the case to the grand jury to seek a superceding indictment on a charge of first-degree murder. A conviction on that charge can result in a term of life in prison without parole. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 25 years to life in prison.

Chapman’s two co-defendants in the case pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser robbery-related charges and have agreed to testify, if necessary, about Chapman’s alleged role in killing Upendra Bawa, 78, last July 17.

Bawa had run the Taste of Life restaurant on Sycamore Street for more than 20 years and lived upstairs from the business.

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