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Man charged in death of woman in elevator

A man accused of spraying gasoline on a 73-year-old woman and setting her ablaze in an elevator was charged Monday with murder and arson, appearing in court with the left side of his face blistered and burned, his upper lip swollen.

Jerome Isaac, 47, said nothing during the brief hearing in Brooklyn criminal court, where he was ordered held without bail in the death of Deloris Gillespie. His lawyer requested solitary confinement and medical attention but did not speak outside court.

Isaac often did odd jobs at her apartment and told police he set her on fire because she owed him $2,000, authorities have said.

He has no prior criminal record, but that does not mean he is not highly dangerous, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub said.

"I know this is the defendant's first offense, but the depravity of this particular single act is beyond my description," he said.

Surveillance video from the elevator shows Isaac dressed somewhat like an exterminator, holding a canister sprayer, wearing white gloves and with a dust mask atop his head. The sprayer was full of gasoline, prosecutors said.

According to the criminal complaint, Isaac doused Gillespie with gasoline as she stood in the elevator, which had just opened to the fifth floor of her apartment building in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn.

Gillespie died of burns and smoke inhalation, according to the criminal complaint.

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