"I think it happened out of desperation, financial desperation. They couldn't make the rent," stated Connie Hambright.
It comes as no surprize that the "Preppie Killer" has been tossed back into jail but trying to blame the cost of an apartment on it is a bit of a surprize. The one bedroom, rent stabelized, $1,800 a month apartment on E 57th St off Sutton place in New York City is the thing many New Yorkers dream of having. Richard Chambers and his girlfriend Shawn Kovell had that until they were arrested Monday October 22 2007 on charges that the two had been dealing cocaine out of the apartment.
Chambers, 41, was charged with two counts of first-degree drug sale, which carries 15 to 30 years and a dozen other charges. Kovell was charged with two counts of selling drugs and faces less time because she has a clean record. The 14 charges Chambers faces are felonies and stem from seven undercover cocaine buys that police had allegedly made at his apartment.
Chambers was the handsome but heartless prep-schooler who strangled Jennifer Levin- maybe during rough sex as he had claimed or just for kicks as some believe in 1986. Shawn Kovell was the fresh-faced beauty who stuck by him through the sensational trial and then wore lingerie for a sick homemade video that mocked the Levin slaying. Chambers copped a manslaughter plea and Kovell waited 15 years for him to be released from prison. They then took a trip to Ireland and tried to escape from public view.
Connie Hambright, Kovell's godmother, opened her Dalton GA home to them in 2003 hoping to give the two hard-luck cases a chance to get a fresh start. Chambers got a menial job at the Pentafab dye factory and Kovell stayed close to home since she had never learned to drive. The neighbors there reported that they didn't see any evidence of drug activity with the two.
Within a year of moving to Georgia, Kovell's mother Rusty, fell ill with cancer and Chamber's mother Phyllis, a private nurse cared for her until her death. Kovell then inherited the apartment in New York City and the pair decided to move back. One neighbor in Georgia stated that the two had agonized over the choice. By 2005 though, Chambers was back in jail for 100 days for herion possession and it was after that, the neighbors noticed the increased foot traffic to their apartment.
Amber Youell, 28, who lived next door to them stated that they often fought and Chambers would lock her out of the apartment where she would be left to scream to be let back in. Building workers stated that the couple had been served notices for not paying the rent and Hambright added that the last time she had spoke to the two, Chambers had lost his car and their cellphone had been disconnected.
The authorities say that Chambers had acted as a drug middleman, selling cocaine to other dealers out of the apartment. He would have his suppliers or their runners in one room and his buyers in another, sources said. He would meet his suppliers downstairs, make contact with them and lead them up to his apartment. Police have video of the outdoor meetings as well as tapes of the drug buys they made in the apartment or hallway there.
Those tapes could lead to more arrests and will probably mean that Chambers will probably not be given a plea deal this time around. They include numerous shots that can lead to identifying other buyers and sellers and between August 3 and August 29, the seven purchases of a total of $9,600 worth of cocaine that police made.
Manhatten District Attorney Robert Morenthau stated that he expects that Chambers will spend the rest of his life in prison. Chambers reportedly whined to the judge that he didn't know why police had broken into the disheveled apartment with a battering ram. He had the nerve to insist that he didn't know what the charges against him were or even why he had been arrested.
Much of this is no real surprize to me, it would seem that Chambers couldn't stay away from the "high life" of the big city. Living in Georgia with a menial job may have been out of the public view and affordable but I think Chambers may have always enjoyed being in the spotlight. Chambers had much the same attitude when he was arrested in 1986 and it would seem he has learned very little since then.... maybe this next stint in jail will help him see that. At least we won't have to listen to his whining anymore.
For a slideshow of the apartment, go here.
Update: Nov 18
Robert Chambers seems to have fallen back onto his favorite defense now that he is faced with new charges that could send him to jail for the rest of his life........ it isn't his fault. That sounds much like the same defense he used when he was charged with killing Jennifer Levin.
Chambers' court-apponited attorney, Valerie Vanleer-Greenberg filed notice with the court that Chambers will plead not guilty by reson of "diminished capacity." The claim is that he was "stoned out of his mind" when he was peddling dope due in part to his chronic drug use. The court did give Greenberg more time to resubmit the paperwork because they did not give enough details.
She plans to have a forensic pyschopharmacologist examine him as soon as she can find one available and she didn't seek to have bail set for his release. Chambers was also hit with new charges from his scuffling with arresting officers. It may be time for Chambers to face the music finally and stop blaming anything but himself for his actions.
Update: December 7
Shawn Kovell was sprung from Rikers Island on Thursday after her lawyer, Franklin Rothman worked out a plea deal for her. She stated though, she will continue to stand by her man, Robert Chambers, as she has all these years.
Kovell stated that she was weaned off drugs in prison by doing methadone and her deal includes rehab, again for her. She was allowed to plead guilty to criminal sale of drugs, a B felony that carries up to 5 1/2 years in prison. Kovell has to go to rehab and if she stays clean for 18 months, she will be allowed to plead to a C felony, which carries no jail time.
She stated that she has ben through rehab twice before but family crisis have helped her fall off the wagon in the past. It was mentioned that she was also anxiously waiting word on whether her cervical cancer had returned.
If stress has been what led to her going back to drugs, possibly she should forget the man she still loves and has gotten her into so much trouble recently. Chambers is said to be facing life in prison..... Kovell could use her time more wisely possibly by finding other activities to do instead of spending her weekends visiting him as she did when he was found guilty of manslaughter.