Niagara Falls man sentenced to 24 years in restaurant owner’s beating death

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A Niagara Falls man who pleaded guilty to a first degree manslaughter charge in the 2016 beating death of an elderly man who owned a popular restaurant on Buffalo’s east side will spend the next 24 years in prison.

Jamell Chapman, 27, was sentenced in a state supreme courtroom Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors say Jamell Chapman, his sister Shanita Chapman, and his girlfriend, Dalene McIlwayne, were trying to rob the owner of the Taste of Life restaurant, Upendra Bawa, in his apartment above his business when Jamell Chapman bludgeoned the victim.

Bawa’s body was found two days later, on July 19, 2016.

Chapman and his co-defendents were arrested in Ohio, after they were found driving Bawa’s stolen car.

Chapman’s attorney, Dan Grasso, claims his client’s girlfriend was the mastermind behind the crime.

“Every time I’ve spoken to him he’s expressed a lot of remorse, tears. And he was caught in a situation where I think he acted out of being kind of manipulated by his girlfriend/fiancé,” Grasso told News 4. “But what he did was wrong and he realizes it.”

In court, Jamell Chapman told the Hon. Buscaglia, “This situation was very tragic. I do regret the things that happened.”

Chapman was facing a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to the manslaughter charge.

Bawa’s companion, Joanne Bell, told News 4 she was happy with Chapman’s 24 year sentence.

“He deserved exactly what he go,” Bell said. “I will always remember July 19th, 2016, and I will always remember April the 18th of 2018. And that’s how I feel. No remorse.”

Bawa’s restaurant did not reopen after his death. His employees lost their jobs.

Chapman’s co-defendants will be sentenced in June.

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