Preppy Killer at 19, Accused of Drug Sales at 41 By CARA BUCKLEY There it was again, that face. Square jaw, piercing eyes, topped by a shock of dark hair. Robert E. Chambers Jr. was back before the cameras yesterday, looking in many ways the tabloid caricature that New Yorkers came to know 20 years ago. Handsome and menacing, he had killed a young woman in Central Park in 1986, and in the process came to symbolize a cocky male arrogance at loose in a world of privilege and excess. Yet this time there were differences. Mr. Chambers, who has struggled to find work after serving 15 years in prison for the killing, was charged with dealing cocaine with his companion from their Midtown apartment. Now 41, he looked gaunt as officers led him on Monday night from a police station to a waiting van, his face sunken, graying stubble coating his chin. He was alone as he appeared in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on charges that could land him back in prison for the rest of his life. There was no leader of the Roman Catholic Church to speak on his behalf, as there had been when he was charged with killing 18-year-old Jennifer Levin, whose near-naked body had been left under a tree in the park. His mother, an Irish immigrant who had sacrificed to give him an Upper East Side childhood of prep schools and the right connections, was not there either. Do you have a lawyer? the judge, Charles Solomon, asked. No, Mr. Chambers replied. Can you afford one? the judge continued. No, Mr. Chambers said. And although Mr. Chambers had been in legal trouble since being released, sentenced to 100 days in prison two years ago after traces of drugs were found in his car, his latest arrest involves much more serious charges. According to the authorities, Mr. Chambers and his companion, Shawn Kovell, 39, who fell in love with him shortly before his trial for the Levin killing, operated a robust cocaine-dealing operation out of their 17th-floor apartment in a gray brick doorman building on East 57th Street. After neighbors complained about a constant stream of strangers to and from the pairs door, the police mounted an undercover operation. Over the course of three months, the authorities said, officers bought 246 grams of cocaine for $9,600 from Mr. Chambers and Ms. Kovell, an amount that could fetch $20,000 on the street. When the police went to arrest the pair late Monday, no one answered the door, so officers used a battering ram to break it down. Once inside, the authorities said, the police found crack pipes and several grams of cocaine. Mr. Chambers struggled violently with one officer and broke the officers wrist, the authorities said. If convicted, said Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, Mr. Chambers could spend the rest of his life in prison. For people long familiar with Mr. Chambers, his latest arrest brought little surprise. That hes gotten to the point of selling cocaine is not surprising to any of us who worked on the case, said Linda A. Fairstein, who prosecuted Mr. Chambers in his murder trial. But it is shocking in light of the opportunities that he was given to get away from his drug problems. Mr. Chambers struggled with drug use long before Aug. 26, 1986, when he ran into Ms. Levin at Dorrians Red Hand, a popular Upper East Side bar. The pair left the bar together, and around dawn, a cyclist discovered Ms. Levins body behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When the police confronted Mr. Chambers, who was then 19 and living with his mother on East 90th Street, deep scratches were carved into his face and arms. He told officers that he had accidentally strangled Ms. Levin during rough sex. His image as a cold-hearted killer was magnified after the trial with a tabloid television programs release of a video showing him twisting off a dolls head and saying, Oops, I think I killed her. Ms. Kovell was also in the video. During his trial, Mr. Chambers pleaded guilty to manslaughter while the jury was deliberating. Ms. Fairstein said Mr. Chambers had begun using cocaine and marijuana at 14. He was thrown out of the elite Browning School, on the Upper East Side, for stealing a wallet, she said, and later went on a spending spree using an American Express card he had stolen from a girl he knew. Mr. Chamberss mother, Phyllis, who worked nights as a nurse to pay for his private schooling, begged the girls mother not to call the police about the card, Ms. Fairstein said, and enrolled Mr. Chambers in a drug treatment center. Yet even after he went to prison for Ms. Levins death, his drug use and bad behavior apparently continued. According to prison records, he was found with marijuana, heroin and, once, a shank, a razor fashioned into a weapon. Ms. Fairstein said that one time a visiting girlfriend took him cocaine concealed in a condom, and slipped it into his mouth when the two kissed. He accumulated 27 violations and served his full 15-year term before being freed, on Feb. 14, 2003. After his release, he and Ms. Kovell lived together for several months in Dalton, Ga. Mr. Chambers struggled to find work as a day laborer, but was dogged by his notoriety, said someone who knew him but who would speak only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Kovell inherited the apartment on East 57th Street after her mother died, and the pair moved there in the fall of 2003. A year later, Mr. Chambers was stopped on a traffic violation, and officers found traces of heroin in his back seat, resulting in the 100-day sentence. After their arrest on Monday, Ms. Kovell, who does not have a criminal record, was led from the police station with her head bowed, whippet thin in black jeans, a blond curtain of hair hiding her face. Mr. Chambers, who is 6-foot-4, was led out next, staring straight ahead and towering over the police officers who held his arms. She was charged with one count each of selling and possessing drugs; he faces 14 counts. They appeared separately yesterday in State Supreme Court. No one, not a friend or a relative, seemed to be by their side. Elias E. Lopez and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting. I hate to sound bitter; but I'm not surprised. His attitude reminds me of a cousin of mine who has spent most of his adult life in and out of prison.