Youth sentenced in killing of classmate's abusive father

April 29, 1987
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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. -- A cocaine-addicted teenager hired by a cheerleader classmate tokill her father, who she claimed subjected her to 'all kinds of sex,' has been sentenced to serve 8 to 24 years in prison.

At a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Suffolk County Court Judge Harvey Sherman gave 18-year-old Sean Pica a stern lecture, saying he was being imprisoned for asking for money to murder a man he did not know.

The judge said he had been asked by 'several interested parties' to send a message to the public regarding teenagers who commit murder.

Sherman declined to do so, saying such messages do not work.

'But, however, I do have a message for Sean,' the judge continued, turning to the youth.

'The more time you spend in prison, the more you will understand why you are there. You are not there for keeping a promise or for being loyal to a friend, but you are there for asking for (money) to murder a man you did not know.'

Pica, wearing a gray suit, shirt and tie, stood with his head bowed and told the judge, 'I just want to say I'm sorry.'

Pica, who lives in Coram, N.Y., has admitted he killed the father of Cheryl Pierson, 17, a popular cheerleader in his Newfield High School homeroom class, because she begged him to do it.

The girl told authorities her father began sexually abusing her when she was 11, and had been having intercourse with her for two years before he was killed. She also said her father beat her, and that she feared he would do the same to her 8-year-old sister.

Her father had subjected her to 'all kinds of sex,' she told authorities.

Cheryl said she begged Pica to kill her father and paid him $400 to do it.

After the sentencing, authorities alleged that Pica had a drug problem and had supported his habit with his involvement in as many as 200 robberies.

'Sean Pica is addicted to cocaine,' Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Ed Jablonski told reporters. 'He supports his habit with burglaries and he just progressed to murder.'

Jablonski called Pica a 'cold-blooded murderer.'

The youth pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the Feb. 5, 1986, killing of James Pierson. Pica shot the 41-year-old electrician as he left his Selden home on his way to work.

Pica has admitted that he lay in wait for Pierson, hiding behind a tree outside his house, and shot him once in the head with a .22-caliber rifle. He then stood over Pierson and pumped four more shots into his body.

The victim's daughter also pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter but was released on bail and will be considered for youthful offender status. She faces a maximum sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison as a youthful offender.

Pica was treated as an adult, although he was 17 years old at the time of the killing.

The judge recommended Pica be imprisoned at the state prison at Elmira, N.Y.

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