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The fatal confrontation erupted nearly 31 years ago inside New Park Pizzeria on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The youngest and most vocal member of a group of white Howard Beach youths that attacked three black men in the south Queens neighborhood in 1986, resulting in the death of one, committed suicide over the summer, according to published reports.
Jon Lester, 48, took his own life on Aug. 14 in his native England, The New York Times and New York Daily News wrote this week.
Lester was convicted of manslaughter and assault for leading the Dec. 20, 1986, attack on Michael Griffith, Cedric Sandiford, and Timothy Grimes, whose vehicle broke down in Broad Channel earlier that night. The men walked down Cross Bay Boulevard to New Park Pizzeria, where they were confronted by a group of young white men. Grimes managed to escape unharmed, but Sandiford and his stepson, Griffith, were not so fortunate.
Sandiford was seriously beaten with a baseball bat and tire iron, while Griffith, 23, was chased onto the nearby Belt Parkway, struck by a car, and died.
Lester was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison in 1988. He served approximately 13 years before he was released and immediately deported to the United Kingdom.
“I don’t suppose I will ever escape my past,” Lester told a British newspaper in 2001.