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Murder conviction is upheld on appeal

A state appellate court has upheld the 2007 conviction of a pimp who was sentenced to 57 years to life in prison for murdering two Buffalo prostitutes.

The appellate court rejected Harrell J. Bonner's contention that he was deprived of a fair trial.

"The defendant was one of the most sadistic and despicable creatures I have ever prosecuted," said Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III. "The Appellate Division apparently agrees."

Sedita, then a deputy district attorney, handled the case in 2007 with prosecutor Mara McCabe. Bonner, 59, also known as Damien Prophet, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder, promoting prostitution and assault.

"The evidence admitted at trial was relevant to establish defendant's motive for beating and killing the victims, and to establish defendant's modus operandi and common scheme of using physical abuse to instill fear and obedience in the prostitutes who worked for him," the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester recently ruled.

Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico imposed the maximum prison term on Bonner's conviction for the murders of Kimberly Warren, 38, and Mechelle Hicks, 35.

Warren was fatally beaten in July 1995, and Hicks was strangled in January 2006. Their remains were found 11 years apart in the same lot on Rapin Street.