Nicole Pearce pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Mineola to charges that she participated in two jewelry store robberies in Nassau County and the murder of a Glen Head jeweler, Newsday reports.
Pearce’s attorney reportedly described his 23-year-old client as a young and impressionable girl, caught up against her will in a heroin-induced string of four jewelry store robberies and three murders. He blamed her boyfriend, Christopher DiMeo, 23, and his mother, Maryann Taylor, 40, for the deadly spree.
“As far as I’m concerned,” Michael Soshnick of reportedly said, “of the three people indicted here, my client is the least culpable.”
But Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla reportedly called that statement “comical.”
“She’s as culpable as Chris DiMeo is,” Biancavilla reportedly said. “She was with him and cased each jewelry store for him, telling him the store layouts and the location of the employees.”
Soshnick did not rule out the possibility that Pearce would cooperate with prosecutors, Newsday reports.
Police and prosecutors have said that Pearce helped case J&J Jewels in Glen Head and a jewelry store in Westbury that was robbed Dec. 5. She also waited in a car with Taylor while DiMeo robbed J&J Jewels Dec. 21 and shot store manager Thomas Renison, 48, of Glen Cove, they said.
Between the Nassau robberies and two more in Rockland County and Connecticut, the three reportedly stole an estimated $380,000 worth of jewelry to support their drug habits, police have said. On Feb. 2, jewelry store owners Timothy Donnelly, 52, and his wife Kimberly, 52, were shot to death in Fairfield, Conn. DiMeo and Pearce were arrested Feb. 4 in Atlantic City.
Pearce was charged with second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree robbery. If convicted of the murder alone, she faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. No charges have been filed against Pearce in Connecticut or Rockland County.
DiMeo was charged earlier this month with first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree robbery. His mother was charged with second-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery.
Pearce is being held at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead to prevent contact with Taylor, who is in the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow along with her son, Newsday reports.