Prosecutors say girlfriend had active role in fatal jewelry store robbery

Nassau County, N.Y., prosecutors offered new details on Tuesday about a string of robberies and killings in jewelry stores that they say show the 23-year-old woman charged in the case was far from a passive accomplice, The New York Times reports.

The accused woman, Nicole Pearce, was described on Monday by her lawyer as a frightened prisoner of her boyfriend and of her own heroin addiction who desperately wanted to escape both. But on Tuesday, Nassau County investigators said that Pearce had had several chances to flee her boyfriend, Christopher DiMeo, from the time they jumped parole in a stolen Honda in October until they were arrested two weeks ago at an Atlantic City motel.

“There’s nothing in the evidence that we’ve developed that would establish that she was forced to do anything she did during this crime spree,” Robert Biancavilla, the Nassau assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, told the Times. “She could have gotten away from him at any time.”

DiMeo and Pearce, both 23, and DiMeo’s mother, Maryann Taylor-Casey, 40, are charged with murder and robbery in a Dec. 21 holdup at J & J Jewels in Glen Head. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors reportedly said that the women cased the store and that DiMeo then walked in alone and chatted with the manager, Thomas Renison, about buying an engagement ring. The police said that DiMeo then drew a gun, robbed the store and shot Renison.

DiMeo and Pearce were also formally charged with murder and robbery in the fatal shooting of Timothy and Kimberly Donnelly, who owned Donnelly Jewelry in Fairfield, Conn., according to media reports.

23-year-old Christopher DiMeo is charged with Capital Felony, two counts of Felony Murder, two Counts of murder and one count each of first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a firearm.

23-year-old Nicole Pearce is charged with two counts of felony murder and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree.

Prosecutors from New York and Connecticut decided on Tuesday that DiMeo and Pearce would be tried on Long Island before they are in Connecticut, where prosecutors could seek the death penalty.

Biancavilla told the Times on Tuesday that Pearce was often the one who pawned the stolen jewels so the couple could buy heroin to feed their addictions.