Focus of Selden murder-for-hire, incest case speaks with News 12
In 1986, Cheryl Pierson - a popular cheerleader at Newfield High School in Selden - was taken away in handcuffs, charged with hiring a classmate to kill her father. Now 30 years later, Pierson and her husband sat down with News 12 Long Island to discuss the sexual abuse that led to her father's slaying.
On the morning of Feb. 5 1986, James Pierson was shot to death as he walked out the side door of his home on his way to work. Classmate Sean Pica had bought a shotgun and shot James Pierson in the back of his head.
The case attracted national attention and headlines, especially after it was revealed in court that Cheryl Pierson had been sexually abused by her father since she was 11 years old.
At the time, her mother was battling kidney disease and eventually died. Cheryl says the turning point came when she was 16 and realized her father was grooming her 8-year-old sister to be his next victim.
"Did I want to kill him myself? I did, I really did," Pierson told News 12. "I hated the man, but I loved him too. I just wished that it would just stop and we could just be a normal family."
Pierson was sentenced to six months in jail, but served just over three months. The prosecutors and the judge in the case stated they believed Pierson's story but said they could not condone her actions.
Her high school sweetheart Rob Cuccio, who had paid Pica $400 for the hit, got probation. Pica spent 16 years in prison.
Pierson and Cuccio have been married for 29 years and have two daughters. They say they are sharing the painful time of their life to help other victims of sexual abuse and incest.
The couple wrote a book called "Incest, Murder and a Miracle." The story will also be re-enacted on the TV series "ID Witness" on the Discovery Channel on Jan. 1.