Robert Chambers now: The ‘Preppy Killer’ is still behind bars but for other reasons

Robert Chambers

Robert Chambers was nicknamed the ‘Preppy killer’ by the media for strangling an 18-year-old Jennifer Levin to death in New York’s Central Park in 1986. Chambers claimed that Levin’s death at his hands was accidental and employed the infamous “rough sex murder defense” at the trial.

After the jury failed to reach a verdict despite nine days of deliberation, Chambers was offered a plea bargain. He decided to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Following his release in 2003, he continued to run into legal issues for drug possession and sale.

Robert Chambers is serving time in the Shawangunk Correctional Facility, New York on drug-related charges

Robert Chambers is currently being incarcerated in the Shawangunk Correctional Facility, New York on charges of selling drugs, notably cocaine. He has been indicted on Class A first-degree felony of criminal sale of a controlled substance and Class D second-degree assault on a police officer.

He has been in the facility since September 5, 2008, and would be eligible for conditional release on January 25, 2024. Nonetheless, the maximum expiration date of his sentence is on October 15, 2026.

On October 23, 2007, Chambers and his girlfriend, Shawn Kovell, were arrested in their Midtown apartment in Manhattan. The police had conducted a sting operation on the couple after the neighbors lodged complaints of suspicious activity in their apartment.

During the four months of investigation by the police, Chambers had sold nearly $10,000 worth of cocaine to undercover detectives as reported by The New York Post. It was learned that Chambers’ and Kovell’s cocaine-dealing operation had been running since the fall of 2003.

The press release of the District Attorney’s office about the arrest obtained by the Observer read:

“The investigation utilized surveillance techniques and an undercover detective to purchase quantities of cocaine directly from Chambers and Kovell near and inside their residence.”

In August 2008, Chambers pled guilty to the drug and assault charges in exchange for a sentence of 19 years

Initially, after his arrest in 2007, Chambers pled not guilty to the drug charges filed against him and was looking at a sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment in case of conviction.

As per CBS News, Chambers’ attorney, Valarie Van Leer-Greenberg, presented a psychiatric defense for his actions at the trial. She argued that years of drug abuse had damaged his brain and judgment. Moreover, she said that he had been using more than 12 bags of heroin and other drugs every single day during the time of his arrest.

However, The New York Times reported that in August 2008, Chambers changed his mind during the trial and pled guilty to selling cocaine out of his apartment in the State Supreme Court of Manhattan.

He also pled guilty to the assault of police officers as he had broken an officer’s wrist and another’s thumb during a violent arrest struggle. The combined plea was in exchange for a sentence of 19 years and four months and five years’ probation with a concurrent sentence of six years for assault.

According to Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor during the Levin Case, Chambers’ history of drug indulgence dates back to when he was fourteen years old. She said that his arrest “did not come as a surprise” to her in an interview with The New York Times:

“His problem has always been addiction, and he has concern only for himself and not for anybody else. I think he’s somebody who should never walk among us again. He’s been given chance after chance after chance. He took the life of a friend, an 18-year-old girl with his bare hands.”

Chambers has also been arrested earlier in 2004 for the misdemeanor possession of drugs in an unlicensed car

During his imprisonment for the Levin case, Chambers had been caught several times for possessing marijuana and heroin in his jail cell.

Owing to such disciplinary violations which included the assault of a guard, Chambers was not eligible for conditional release on good behavior and was further sent to serve the maximum term of his sentence in Clinton Correctional Facility.

After serving his 15-year sentence for the manslaughter of Jennifer Levin in Auburn State Prison in New York, Chambers was released on February 14, 2003. He went on to work in a store outside of New York and lived with his long-time girlfriend, Kovell, in her Midtown apartment.

“He has held down a regular job and has been in a stable relationship with a woman he’s been with for many years. He loves [Kovell] very much. I would say he is doing well,” Brian O’Dwyer, Chambers’ lawyer, told The New York Times.

But within just a year of his release, Chambers was arrested yet again in November 2004 in Harlem for misdemeanor possession of heroin and cocaine in a car with a suspended license car. He was fined $200 for license violation and sentenced to 100 days in prison in 2005, reported CBS News.

“I always believed his problem with drugs and alcohol would get him in trouble again. He’s had the opportunity in prison to detox and take college courses, to straighten out his life,” she said, “but that clearly is of no interest to him. He’s learned nothing in the last 20 years,” Fairstein told New York Daily News.