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Lent Pleads Guilty to Murder and Kidnapping In Pittsfield Boy’s Death

June 3, 1996 GMT

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A man suspected of abducting and killing a 12-year-old boy he had lured into a movie theater pleaded guilty Monday to murder and kidnapping and was immediately sentenced to life without parole.

Lewis Lent Jr., 45, of North Adams, also was sentenced to nine to 10 years on the kidnapping charge, to run concurrently, the Berkshire County district attorney’s office said.

Jury selection was due to begin Tuesday in Lent’s trial for the killing of 12-year-old Jimmy Bernardo of Pittsfield in western Massachusetts.

Lent also is charged with killing a 12-year-old New York state girl, and is currently serving a prison sentence for attempting to kidnap a Pittsfield girl.

Prosecutors said Lent kidnapped Bernardo on Oct. 22, 1990, after luring him into the Pittsfield movie theater where Lent worked.

Police allege that Lent held the boy overnight and then drove him to Newfane, N.Y., about 250 miles away, and strangled him. The body was found by hunters several weeks later.

Although the killing took place in New York, prosecutors there agreed to have the entire case tried in Massachusetts because the penalty for first-degree murder is tougher.

Lent now will go to New York State to stand trial in the disappearance of Sarah Anne Wood, who disappeared in 1993. Her body has never been found, despite a dozen searches of areas where Lent was known to visit.

One of Lent’s lawyers, Alan Rubin, said plea negotiations had been going on for two weeks, because Lent was very worried about his safety in prison. Rubin told The Berkshire Eagle that the district attorney had agreed to recommend Lent be sent to a federal prison after his trial in New York.

Bernardo’s family said in a statement they were pleased with the guilty plea: ``Our family is very glad to be finally able to put this behind us. Perhaps we can now continue the healing process, knowing Mr. Lent is in prison for life and will finally be punished for his crime.″