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February 24, 2003

Man gets life in prison for killing pregnant girlfriend

From: Newsday - 24 Feb 2003

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A man drew a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison Monday for shooting his pregnant girlfriend and burying her in a shallow grave.

Jerold Ponder, 29, was convicted in January of second-degree murder for killing Zaneta Browne, who was four months pregnant with twins. Ponder's wife, Keya, who was also charged with murder, is set for trial in April.

Ponder maintained he was taking Browne target-shooting in rural Orleans County last July when she grabbed the rifle in excitement and was shot accidentally. Five days later, the body was discovered wrapped in a pink blanket in a grave in the Rochester suburb of Chili.

Browne, 29, had been shot in the head and shoulder with a .22-caliber rifle, police said.

The day before Ponder was found guilty, his 18-year-old brother, Sergio, was captured after a bank holdup and charged with robbery, assault and grand larceny.

A bank teller unobtrusively mouthed a warning to a deaf customer during the robbery, leading to the teenager's capture at a nearby building as he tried to wash ink from an exploding dye pack off his hands.

Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press