Jury convicts man for killing Mayor of LIC

Jury convicts man for killing Mayor of LIC
Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Rebecca Henely

A Queens Supreme Court jury found Eric Cherry, 47, guilty Monday of the September 2008 killing of Long Island City community leader Nicolas Nowillo, known as “The Mayor of Long Island City.”

“The justice system did its work,” said Doris Nowillo Suda, Nowillo’s daughter. “It doesn’t bring back my father, but I’m very happy that the verdict was guilty.”

Cherry, whose last known address was at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence, at 21-10 Borden Ave. in Long Island City, was found guilty after a three-week jury trial presided over by Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak, the Queens district attorney said. He was convicted of manslaughter and assault, the DA said.

Nowillo, a U.S. Army veteran and a retired jeweler, had lived in Long Island City for 34 years before his death. His frequent attendance at Community Boards 1 and 2 and the Dutch Kills Civic Association earned him the nickname “The Mayor of Long Island City.”

“My father was a giving man and instilled that in many people,” Suda said.

At the request of a female neighbor, Nowillo, 65, left his house, on Crescent Street near 39th Ave., around 10:40 p.m. Sept. 3, 2008 to help escort her from her car to her house after she said Cherry was staring at her and scaring her, the DA said.

When he was outside, Nowillo found Cherry standing in front of his house, banging and kicking his car, the DA said. When Nowillo told Cherry to leave, Cherry attacked, punching Nowillo numerous times, then throwing him to the ground and kicking him, the DA said.

Nowillo later died at a nearby hospital. The city medical examiner’s office found Nowillo had nine fractured ribs and trauma to the body, the DA said.

Cherry had a long rap sheet that included arrests on suspicion of cocaine possession, attempted theft and possessing burglary tools, the DA’s office said.

Suda said she believed Cherry represented himself poorly in his testimony during the trial. She said at one point Cherry had claimed to be at 39th Avenue and Crescent Street to get food and had $10 in his pocket, although there was no restaurant nearby and he did not have the money.

Suda said it was hard to stay silent during the trial when Cherry lied about her father and said Nowillo had said things Suda had never known him to say.

“My father would never say [the N-word],” Suda said. “My father would never curse. My father never even said ‘Shut up.’”

Cherry’s sentencing date is June 6 and he faces up to 25 years in prison, the DA said.

Suda thanked members of the community and the Police Department for their support and help in convicting Cherry.

“I’m just truly blessed by everyone who played a role in the arrest,” she said.

Since her father’s death, Suda has done public speaking about organ donations. Parts of Nowillo’s body have been used to help more than 50 people, Suda said.

The intersection of 40th Avenue and Crescent Street was renamed Nicolas A. Nowillo Place in September 2010 in Nowillo’s honor.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.