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Shoelace killer convicted of murder

Oct. 16, 2013 By Christian Murray

A homeless woman who was camping out in Astoria Park and helped strangle a man to death with a sneaker lace was convicted of murder yesterday.

Kelly Harnett, 32, was convicted for the pre-dawn murder of Ruben Angel Vargas, an Astoria man who was found strangled and beaten in Astoria Park on July 7, 2010. Harnett, along with her homeless accomplice Thomas Donovan, also stole Vargas’ wallet.

Harnett, who had been ordered held without bail since her arrest in July 2010, was convicted of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Donovan had previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and is presently serving a fifteen-year prison sentence.

According to testimony, Harnett repeatedly kicked Vargas about the head and torso while Donovan manually choked him.  Harnett then handed a sneaker shoelace to Donovan, who used it as a ligature to further strangle and kill the victim before fleeing. They were arrested in the park a short time later.

“This was a senseless crime in which an innocent victim was robbed of his life,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.  “Justice will only be served – and society protected – when the defendant, like her co-defendant, is given a lengthy prison sentence to punish her for such a wanton act of violence.”

Sentencing is scheduled for November 20, 2013, at which time Harnett faces up to 25 years to life in prison.


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