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Gunman Who Killed Beloved Grand Ave. Local Gets 23 Years to Life in Prison

 A portrait of Gilbert Kelly hung at a streetside memorial on Friday April 25, 2014.
A portrait of Gilbert Kelly hung at a streetside memorial on Friday April 25, 2014.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

CLINTON HILL — A judge has sentenced a gunman who murdered a beloved Grand Avenue man who tried to stop him from stealing a bag of grapes, prosecutors said.

Victorious Kingsberry, 20, was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison Monday in the killing of 57-year-old Gilbert Kelly, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office.

“This sentence represents justice for Gilbert Kelly, who was a fixture of the Clinton Hill community and died protecting Grand Avenue, the block he loved,” Thompson said in a statement. 

“He was senselessly shot dead by this defendant, who now deserves to spend many years behind bars for killing such a generous and beloved man.”

In November, a jury found Kingsberry guilty of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the March 15, 2014, attack. 

Kingsberry, then 18, exited the C station at Washington Avenue and Fulton Street with five of his friends on their way home from a party around 4:30 a.m. when he swiped a bag of grapes from a fruit stand.

Kelly, who was known for sweeping the neighborhood’s streets at night while singing old Motown songs, confronted the teens about the grapes.

An argument followed in which Kelly pulled out a kitchen knife, prompting Kingsberry to take out a handgun and shoot Kelly in the chest before running off. Kelly died en route to the hospital. 

Kingsberry was arrested more than a month after the shooting. He has a long criminal record, including 15 prior arrests for crimes including grand larceny, burglary, trespassing, jumping turnstiles and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.