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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Prosecutors said that the couple’s marriage was unhappy and that Ms. Redmond-Mercereau was “a volcano” who killed her husband after years of being teased and criticized about her housekeeping and her weight
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 2, 2007
Date of arrest: March 20, 2008
Date of birth: 1969
Victim profile: Her husband, Douglas Mercereau, 39, New York City fire marshal
Method of murder: Shooting (9mm handgun)
Location: Staten Island, New York City, Richmond County, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on July 1, 2009

photo gallery


7 years after murder, FDNY 'Black Widow' Janet Redmond-Mercereau serves out sentence of 25 years to life

By Kristin F. Dalton -

December 2, 2014

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- On Dec. 2, 2007, an Oakwood FDNY marshal was executed in his sleep with his own service weapon, while his two young daughters -- ages 5 and 6 -- slept in the next room.

Tuesday marks seven years from the day Douglas Mercereau was shot three times in the head at close range with his 9mm handgun in his 90 Tarring St. home.

Police zeroed in on his wife, Janet Redmond-Mercereau, whose cheerful behavior in the days and weeks after the murder earned her the nickname "The Merry Widow." When news photographers gathered outside of her home to take photos, the then-40-year-old asked "Do you want me to pose for you?", claiming she "felt like a model."

Police believed she shot her husband, then wiped the weapon clean of prints, removed her clothes and threw them into the washing machine and took "several showers" to get rid of any gunpowder reside.

Mario Gallucci, Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau's lawyer, maintained cops had been focusing all of their attention on an innocent woman.

Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau claimed that she didn't hear the gun shots because she was in a deep sleep from a painkiller, as well as a prescription sleeping pill -- and was wearing earplugs.

She claimed to have been sleeping in her children's room when the shooting took place, even though her daughter said her mother wasn't with them during an interview with an ACS social worker.

Police and ACS conducted four interviews with the girls and although they weren't able to provide details of the killing, they were able to contradict their mother's account of the crime.

The 12-member panel -- which was sequestered during the deliberations -- came to a unanimous verdict after being deadlocked for over three days. She was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life.

She is currently serving time at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester Country, N.Y.

Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau will not be eligible for parole until March 2033.

If the parole board does not grant her release, she will have to continue out her life sentence.

ACS placed the children in the New Jersey home of the victim's brother, Brian.


Maximum Sentence for Wife in Fire Marshal’s Killing

By Ann Farmer - The New York Times

July 2, 2009

The widow of a New York City fire marshal was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years to life in prison for killing him, a sentence that was greeted by spontaneous applause from a courtroom filled with the dead man’s colleagues, friends and relatives.

The marshal, Douglas Mercereau, 39, was fatally shot on Dec. 2, 2007, while he slept in his bed in his Staten Island home. A jury convicted his wife, Janet Redmond-Mercereau, of second-degree murder on May 21.

Ms. Redmond-Mercereau, 40, betrayed no emotion after the sentence was pronounced in State Supreme Court in Staten Island. She averted her gaze from the crowd when being led in and out of the courtroom and stared straight ahead throughout the hearing.

Justice Robert J. Collini twice offered her the opportunity to speak on her own behalf, but she said she would “stand by” what her lawyers had said.

James Mercereau, one of the victim’s brothers, spoke during the hearing of the fire marshal’s warmth and compassion.

“Justice feels really, really great,” he added outside the courtroom after the hearing.

Bill Kregler, president of the Fire Marshals Benevolent Association, said, “There’s no winning, no satisfaction, no pleasure — only justice served.”

Mr. Kregler also criticized Ms. Redmond-Mercereau’s behavior in court. “She could have said something today,” he said. “But she left the courtroom with the same smirk that she’s come into the courtroom with for the last few weeks.”

Lawyers for Ms. Redmond-Mercereau continued to assert her innocence, and one of them, Joseph Benfante, said the forensic evidence “just did not add up.”

“All I’m saying is, juries make mistakes,” he said.

During the trial, prosecutors said that the couple’s marriage was unhappy and that Ms. Redmond-Mercereau was “a volcano” who killed her husband after years of being teased and criticized about her housekeeping and her weight, which increased after the birth of the couple’s second daughter.

Another of Ms. Redmond-Mercereau’s lawyers, Mario Gallucci, in asking the judge for leniency, said she was a loving wife and mother. The couple had two daughters, who are 6 and 8 and are in the custody of one of the marshal’s brothers.

Yolanda L. Rudich, an assistant district attorney, argued that Ms. Redmond-Mercereau deserved the maximum sentence and recounted the events of the killing: Douglas Mercereau was shot three times in the head at the couple’s home in the Oakwood neighborhood, and evidence indicated that he was still alive after the first shot.

“But she didn’t care,” Ms. Rudich said, “and she didn’t stop there.” The second shot, she said, was fired only four inches from his head.

Just before the sentencing, the judge read a presentence report by the Department of Probation that described the crime as “cold, calculated and callous.”

Justice Collini said the department had recommended the maximum punishment, “and this court agrees.”

Cindy Thompson, a sister of Douglas Mercereau, said: “I lost a good friend. The world has lost a really good person.”

The sentence, she added, is “the icing on the cake. We’re done with her.”


Janet Redmond-Mercereau guilty in husband's murder

By Staten Island Advance

May 11, 2009

The widow of a Staten Island fire marshal was convicted yesterday of executing her husband as he slept in their Oakwood home, shooting him in the head with his own gun because he complained about her weight.

It took the near-deadlocked jury more than three days to find Janet Redmond-Mercereau, 40, guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her former husband, Supervising Fire Marshal Douglas Mercereau, who was shot three times in the head Dec. 2, 2007. The former Tottenville High School English teacher faces up to life in prison when she is sentenced June 25.

"It feels good," said Mercereau's brother, Jim Mercereau, who gave a thumbs-up as he left state Supreme Court in St. George after the verdict was read.

He and other family members clutched each other and let out a sigh as the verdict was read. Ms. Redmond-Mercereau showed no emotion as the jury forewoman said "guilty" or as she was led away in handcuffs. Her attorneys said they would file an appeal, and called yesterday's conviction merely "the first battle in the war."

"Janet is innocent, she is truly innocent, and it will be proven," said attorney Joseph Benfante, who added that jurors were obviously torn because they took three and a half days to make a decision and, until yesterday, seemed deadlocked 9-3 in favor of conviction.

Ms. Redmond-Mercereau was convicted of shooting her husband, a 12-year veteran of the FDNY and a rising star within the department, as the couple's two young daughters slept in another room.

Prosecutors described her as "a volcano" and someone who held a grudge, and that she let complaints about her weight and lazy housekeeping fester until she murdered him in a cold-blooded execution.

"You know what? If you're in an unhappy relationship you get a divorce, you don't shoot your husband in the head while he sleeps," said Assistant District Attorney Yolanda L. Rudich, who prosecuted the case with fellow ADA Adam Silberlight.

The couple's daughters, who were 5 and 6 at the time of the slaying, are under the care of Mercereau's brother, Brian Mercereau, and are "doing all right, under the circumstances," Ms. Rudich said.

The Mercereau family did not speak to the media, but said in a statement that Mercereau was a dedicated fire marshal and dad who loved nothing more than to spend time with his daughters, Melanie and Renee."

The jury's verdict provides us some closure and the healing process continues," it read. "His death leaves our family devastated by this senseless murder, two young daughters without their parents and a void in the lives of those he touched."

Ms. Redmond-Mercereau's sisters and other family members were stoic throughout yesterday's hearing, and declined to comment.

Ms. Redmond-Mercereau soon came under suspicion in her husband's death after a spent shell casing from the murder weapon was discovered in the basement of their Tarring Street home, a careless firing site that Mercereau, a shooting instructor who took meticulous care with his weapons, would have been unlikely to choose. She also was able to tell emergency responders exactly how many times her husband was shot, Ms. Rudich said.

Prosecutors said the round fired through an archery target in the basement was a "test shot." After the murder, she washed the gun in the dishwasher to remove the blood experts said would undoubtedly have splattered on to the weapon after being fired at such close range, and laundered her clothes.

District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan said the case was a difficult one because it relied almost totally on circumstantial evidence, but it proved that there was no one else but Ms. Redmond-Mercereau who could have committed the crime.

Ms. Redmond-Mercereau's behavior in the weeks following her husband's death -- but prior to her arrest -- earned her the nickname the "Merry Widow": She chopped down a favorite oak tree of her husband's a month after he was killed, and while under a cloud of suspicion in his death the five-foot-three, 240-pound woman posed for photographers and said she felt "like a model."

Fire Department Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said, "this was a terrible tragedy, especially for the Mercereaus' children, and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

As Ms. Redmond-Mercereau was being loaded into the prison bus for transport back to Rikers Island, she didn't look at Mercereau's brother, Tom, and other family members who craned to snap one last cell phone picture of the murderess.

"Bye, bye," they said.

-- Reported by Jeff Harrell and Phil Helsel


With little physical evidence, prosecutors to push motive in Staten Island fire widow's trial

By Michael Oates - Staten Island Advance

March 30, 2009

Janet Redmond-Mercereau, who goes on trial this week for the murder of her husband, leaves court after a hearing last fall.

There's only one eyewitness: The killer.

But nobody has come forward to admit to the 2007 slaying of Supervising Fire Marshal Douglas Mercereau of Oakwood.

There is a murder weapon.

Police found the victim's 9mm service revolver a few feet from his blood-soaked body -- there were three bullets in his head -- inside the Tarring Street home he shared with his wife and two young daughters.

But no fingerprints were found on the gun.

Nor is there a hint of DNA that ties the slaying to a suspect.

Prosecutors have a corpse and the gun that killed him, but they won't be armed with a stitch of material evidence when the trial of Janet Redmond-Mercereau begins with jury selection on Wednesday.

"Entirely circumstantial," is how Assistant District Attorney Yolanda Rudich described the evidence against the former Tottenville High School English teacher accused of murdering her husband in his sleep during the early-morning hours of Dec. 2, 2007.

"Motive," Ms. Rudich emphasized, "is critical to the case."

Prosecutors say Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau shot her husband because she'd had enough of his gibes about her weight during their troubled marriage.

Investigators believe Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau wiped the gun clean of prints, removed her clothes and threw them in the washing machine, then took several showers to shed incriminating gunpowder residue.

After newspaper photographs showed Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau smiling in her driveway and claiming, "I feel like a model," Ms. Rudich painted the accused killer as a "merry widow" devoid of emotion over her husband's death.

But Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau's grief-challenged public demeanor does not mean she's a cold-hearted killer, countered her attorneys, Mario Gallucci and Joseph Benfanti.

"Circumstantial evidence cases are generally very difficult cases," Gallucci said. "I believe strongly in my client's innocence in this case.

"I just hope that we'll be able to select a fair and impartial jury on Staten Island," Gallucci added, "which I believe will be very difficult."

Chances are good that prospective jurors already have heard about the Mercereau case.

The local and national media spotlight has shined on Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau since she voluntarily surrendered to police in March last year, four months after she called 911 and reported finding her husband dead in his bed.

In September last year, Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau went on NBC's "Today" show and adamantly denied killing her husband.

Justice Robert J. Collini recently ordered NBC to turn over a bulk of the outtakes from that interview to prosecutors. The judge reasoned that statements Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau made during the jailhouse interview with NBC were "inconsistent" with what she'd previously told detectives.

While police and prosecutors maintain there is plenty of probable cause to point the finger at Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau, since she was the only adult in the house at the time and there were no signs of forced entry, Collini emphasized that motive is key.

"In any case dealing with alleged domestic violence, motive is highly critical and relevant," the judge wrote in his decision.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau has maintained her innocence throughout -- sort of.

Prior to her arrest last year, Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau appeared before a judge in Staten Island Family Court in an attempt to regain custody of her two daughters, who were removed from the home following their father's death.

Judge Terrence McElrath had one question to ask before he rendered his decision.

"Did you murder your husband?"

Mrs. Janet Redmond-Mercereau replied by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

-- Contributed by Jeff Harrell


After FDNY fire marshal hubby gets shot, wife drinks a few shots

BY Oren Yaniv -

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Staten Island woman accused of killing her fire marshal husband downed three shots of whisky - and then asked for more booze - right after cops found the body, it was revealed Wednesday.

An Emergency Medical Service captain testified seeing Janet Redmond-Mercereau, 39, having "three shots of Johnnie Walker" as she wept inside a neighbor's home.

"She said she needed more," Capt. Carolyn Fiorianti said at a pretrial hearing in Staten Island Supreme Court. "But the bottle was empty."

The neighbor then went to grab a bottle of peach schnapps from a cabinet, but Fiorianti said she told Redmond-Mercereau, whose two young daughters were upstairs, that she better stop drinking.

"She was noticeably upset. She was crying," Fiorianti said. "She kept repeating, 'What am I going to do?'"

Minutes earlier on the morning of Dec. 2, 2007, Redmond-Mercereau called 911 and said her husband, Douglas Mercereau, a promising fire marshal, had been shot.

Police believe she pumped three bullets into his head as he slept and spent the next two hours covering up evidence before making the call. The couple often fought over the wife's weight.

The boozing revelations came as Redmond-Mercereau's lawyer tried to suppress all statements the high school teacher gave cops.

Defense lawyer Mario Gallucci demonstrated some inconsistencies in police reports and earlier testimonies.

"It's all discrepant," Gallucci said after the hearing. "The police, at some point, trampled her constitutional rights."

The trial is set to start in early December.


No bail for slain FDNY Marshal's wife

BY Jonathan Lemire -

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wearing a sweatsuit and an odd smile, the wife of murdered Fire Marshal Douglas Mercereau was ordered held without bail Friday after she was charged with shooting him in the head.

Janet Redmond-Mercereau, 38, even winked at her worried sisters after she pleaded not guilty. She was denied bail and led from a Staten Island courtroom packed with stone-faced fire marshals and her husband's distraught relatives.

Prosecutors believe Redmond-Mercereau pumped three bullets into the head of her sleeping husband on Dec. 2, 2007. Authorities have painstakingly built a case against her over the past four months.

"These charges are supported by strong circumstantial evidence that excludes any reasonable conclusion that anybody else cold-bloodedly executed her husband as he slept," said Assistant District Attorney Yolanda Rudich.

"We don't have a smoking gun here," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan. "But there were never any other suspects."

Donovan said the motive for the slaying remains unknown, though the couple had a troubled marriage and often argued about Redmond-Mercereau's escalating weight.

Investigators believe Redmond-Mercereau - who is 5-feet-3 and 240 pounds - spent two hours cleaning the crime scene and even tossed the murder weapon, her husband's gun, into the dishwasher. She then took multiple showers before she called 911, authorities said.

Three shell casings were found in the house - one in the kitchen, one in the dining room, and one near Douglas Mercereau's body, Donovan said Friday.

Investigators believe Redmond-Mercereau scattered them throughout the house, apparently in a bid to hide them.

Redmond-Mercereau, who was fired recently from her teaching post at Tottenville High School, also is suspected of coaching the couple's two young daughters to lie to cops. The kids, who are now staying with a neighbor, told police their mother spent the night in their room.

Prosecutors cited that alleged coverup, as well as Redmond-Mercereau's "light-hearted behavior" since the murder, when they successfully requested that Judge Stephen Rooney deny bail.

"We are extremely disappointed," said defense lawyer Mario Gallucci, who claimed his client had several recent run-ins with firefighters who taunted her by calling her "killer."

Blaming the media's coverage of the murder, Gallucci suggested that he would ask for a change of venue for the trial. He argued that finding an impartial jury pool on Staten Island would be "impossible."

"This is the twilight zone - I can't believe this is happening," said JoAnn Scalia, Redmond-Mercereau's sister, after watching her sibling be led away in handcuffs. "She's a good person, [and] she didn't kill her husband."

Douglas Mercereau, 38, had been promoted to the rank of supervising fire marshal in the weeks before his death and was described by Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta as a "rising star" in the department.


‘Suspect’ respects

By Lorena Mongelli -

December 8, 2007

Slain Staten Island fire marshal Douglas Mercereau’s full-figured wife – who some believe was driven to murder by humiliating fat jokes he made at her expense – was the elephant in the room at his funeral yesterday as detectives spent the day trying to build a case against her.

Mercereau’s funeral at St. Charles Church in Oakwood drew more than 200 firefighters, friends and relatives. Many remembered him as a devoted family man who put his wife and kids before his job.

“He was an outstanding husband and father,” said Robert Pento, a fire marshal who worked with Mercereau. “He loved his daughters more than life.”

Meanwhile, detectives yesterday scrutinized the financial records of Janet Redmond-Mercereau, the sole suspect in the execution-style shooting in their Oakwood home Sunday, on the suspicion that she could have paid someone to help kill her husband, sources said yesterday.

They are looking at her bank accounts, credit-card bills, cellphone records and other files that could further implicate her in the murder.

Earlier, detectives checked Redmond-Mercereau’s claim that she slept through the murder – by firing shots inside the home to hear how far the sound traveled.

“The people that were there could hear it outside, so you would assume that anyone sleeping inside would have heard it, too,” said a law-enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

Frank Ardizzone, who lives across the street from the Mercereaus, said he heard the test gunfire.

“I heard what sounded like three muffled shots,” Ardizzone said. “It was ‘boom, boom, boom.’ ”

Ardizzone said the couple’s 5- and 6-year-old daughters had stayed with him for most of the past several days.

“The bigger one has some understanding about what happened,” he said. “But the little one just knows her daddy died and her mother went away.”

“I still find it hard to believe she pulled the trigger,” he said. “I can’t imagine what type of torment would drive her to do that.”

At the funeral, Pento said Mercereau was a rising star in the Fire Department and would have done anything to defend the citizens of New York.

Other mourners said his wife’s presence at the service was awkward.

“I think we were all a little uncomfortable,” family friend Donna Long said. “It’s a difficult time.”

“I was focusing on the Mercereau family and their pain,” she said.

“I have no feelings for her right now.”

Additional reporting by Erika Martinez and Philip Messing


Slay ‘reshoot’

By Murray Weiss -

December 7, 2007

Detectives plan to re-enact the fatal shooting of a Staten Island fire marshal today to check out his wife’s alibi that she slept through it, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.

Janet Redmond-Mercereau says she was asleep in another room and didn’t hear the three shots fired into the head of her husband, Douglas Mercereau, as he slept in his bed Sunday.

To check the alibi, a detective will fire three shots from the murder weapon in the fire marshal’s room today, the sources said.

Other detectives will be in other rooms and outside the house to see if they can hear the shots. The re-enactment will also be recorded.

Neighbors have told cops they thought they heard shots at 6:20 a.m. The fatal bullets were fired from Mercereau’s service revolver, according to an autopsy.

His wife did not call cops until two hours later.

News of the re-enactment came as the sources revealed that Redmond-Mercereau, 38, is no stranger to violence – her sister was the victim of an attempted murder-suicide.

In February 1991, Mary Anne Redmond was shot in the head and back by her fiancé, Michael Morrisey, an NYPD cop who then blew his brains out.

The couple had been involved in an argument before the tragedy, which took place at Morrisey’s Staten Island home, cops said then.

Redmond, 41, was critically wounded, but survived.

She said “no comment” and slammed the door when a reporter asked her about the incident.

Redmond-Mercereau and her sister attended the second day of the fire marshal’s wake yesterday, the wife’s presence making some mourners feel uneasy.

“It was a little uncomfortable for me after everything I read in the papers,” said Louis Maira, a childhood friend of the victim. “I’m sure it’s hard for his family.”

Asked how the family felt about the wife’s presence, one of Mercereau’s sisters said, “There are no feelings. The family is trying to have a wake and funeral with dignity, and that’s all that matters right now.”

Redmond-Mercereau’s lawyer, Mario Gallucci, denied there was any hostility toward his client, saying she and her husband’s relatives had planned both the wake and his funeral today.

“She’s grieving. She’s mourning, just like any wife who lost her husband would be,” he said.

When cops arrived Sunday, they saw blood on Redmond-Mercereau’s fingernails and found her freshly dried clothes in the dryer, the sources said. The cops are comparing the blood with Mercereau’s.


Telltale blood in FDNY slay

By Murray Weiss -

December 6, 2007

When cops arrived at the Staten Island home of a slain fire marshal, they saw blood on his wife’s fingernails and found her freshly dried clothes in the dryer, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.

When the cops asked Janet Redmond-Mercereau, 38, how the blood got there, she said it came from her menstrual period and not from contact with her dead husband, Douglas Mercereau, the sources said.

The officers took swabs of the blood and are doing tests to see if it matches her husband’s.

Mercereau, also 38, who was named a supervising fire marshal last month, was shot three times in the head with his 9 mm service revolver Sunday while asleep in his bed.

The fire marshal and his wife reconciled recently after filing for divorce in April 2006, but neighbors said they were still having problems.

One neighbor said Redmond-Mercereau said “vicious things about her husband.”

“She said really mean things about him,” the neighbor said. “She couldn’t be happy with what she had.”

The neighbor refused to elaborate but said the comments were so mean she cut off contact with Redmond-Mercereau.

The neighbor said her husband had a long conversation with Janet and afterward reported that “she wasn’t making any sense. He didn’t understand what she was talking about.”

Police have twice questioned Redmond-Mercereau, who called 911 to report her husband’s death at 8:20 a.m., more than two hours after Mercereau’s approximate time of death, according to the medical examiner.

When cops arrived, she explained she had slept in her daughters’ room and didn’t check on her husband until she found his body.

Police subsequently determined that Redmond-Mercereau, a high-school teacher, had showered twice and washed her clothes, the sources said.

Crime-scene investigators are combing through the house, dismantling drains and pipes in an effort to find blood and brain matter, the sources said.

At Mercereau’s wake yesterday, firefighter Jim Vitucci, of Engine 243, said: “What happened is a tragedy. It’s very difficult because we all knew Doug very well and worked with him side by side fighting fires.”

Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli, John Doyle and Eric Lenkowitz


Fire marshal murdered

By Staten Island Advance

December 4, 2007

He was a city fire marshal, a rising star in the FDNY.

Married with two children, he was described by his neighbors as "the all-American kid," who bore a resemblance to actor Matthew Perry.

But three bullets to the head shattered a seemingly picture-perfect life, and now detectives are investigating who killed Douglas J. Mercereau in his Oakwood home on Sunday morning.

Cops found Mercereau, 38, dead in his bed at 90 Tarring St. at about 8:25 a.m., after his wife, Janet Redmond-Mercereau, called 911 and told authorities she'd discovered the body, according to law enforcement sources.

Investigators have interviewed Mrs. Redmond-Mercereau, those sources said, but they would not say what direction the interview took.

Public records show that the couple, who wed in 1995, started divorce proceedings in April 2006 but never followed through. A source familiar with their circumstances said they decided to reconcile their differences.

Police did not offer a possible motive for the borough's 10th homicide of 2007.

On Sunday, the shooting was labeled as "an investigate DOA."

Yesterday, authorities announced that the city medical examiner had officially declared the case a homicide.

'A rising star'

Mercereau, who joined the FDNY in 1996, was promoted to the rank of fire marshal in September 2004.

"Supervising Fire Marshal Douglas Mercereau was a rising star within the FDNY's Bureau of Fire Investigation, and his death is a tremendous loss for the entire department," said city Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

His family, who gathered last night in his older brother Tom's house, a few blocks from the crime scene, refused to talk about the circumstances of the shooting.

"He was a fabulous kid," said his oldest sister, Betsy Gallo, who noted he was the youngest of six siblings. She wouldn't comment further.

Police had cordoned off a square block around the Mercereaus' two-story tan-colored house -- which was adorned with cardboard cutouts of Pilgrims, autumn leaves and the legend Happy Thanksgiving hanging in the front windows -- while they gathered evidence Sunday. Detectives were still treating the house as a crime scene last night.

'All-American kid'

Neighbors said Mercereau had inherited the house from his parents, and lived there with his wife, who is a school teacher, and two young daughters, ages 5 and 6..

"We woke up this morning and looked out the window and saw snow; a half-hour later there were police all over the place," said Steve Allen, whose house on Guyon Avenue faces the Mercereau residence.

"I would describe him as a nice, all-American kid," said Allen, who said he'd enjoyed friendly relations with Mercereau for more than 20 years.

Mercereau's parents, James and Joan Mercereau, died in 1999 and 2000, Allen said.

"He was very even-tempered; I never saw him do anything out of the ordinary," he said, recalling how Mercereau used to work on cars and frequently offered to help neighbors fix their vehicles.

Other neighbors were likewise shocked.

"He was the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet," said Art Werneken, who lives two houses away. "If there was ever such a 'normal' person, it was him."

Mercereau graduated from Monsignor Farrell High School and St. John's University, Grymes Hill, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and was named to the National Criminal Justice honor society.

Before joining the FDNY, he worked as a deputy sheriff in the auto-theft unit of the city Sheriff's Office in Manhattan.

---- Contributed by John Annese, Deborah Young, Peter N. Spencer and Doug Auer


Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

The People, etc., respondent,
Janet Redmond Mercereau, appellant.

2009–06525 (Ind.No. 92/08)

Decided: May 24, 2011

DANIEL D. ANGIOLILLO, J.P. ANITA R. FLORIO PLUMMER E. LOTT LEONARD B. AUSTIN, JJ.White & White, New York, N.Y. (Diarmuid White and Brendan White of counsel), for appellant. Daniel M. Donovan, Jr., District Attorney, Staten Island, N.Y. (Morrie I. Kleinbart of counsel), for respondent.

Argued—April 12, 2011


Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Richmond County (Collini, J.), rendered July 2, 2009, convicting her of murder in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

In fulfilling our responsibility to conduct an independent review of the weight of the evidence (see CPL 470.15[5];  People v. Danielson, 9 NY3d 342), we nevertheless accord great deference to the factfinder's opportunity to view the witnesses, hear the testimony, and observe demeanor (see People v. Mateo, 2 NY3d 383, 410, cert denied 542 U.S. 946;  People v. Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495).   Upon reviewing the record here, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence (see People v. Romero, 7 NY3d 633).

The defendant requested permission to introduce into evidence a video demonstration of an experiment conducted by her expert that allegedly would have discredited the People's theory with regard to the manner in which the murder weapon was allegedly sanitized.   Contrary to the defendant's contention, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying the defendant's request.

“Demonstrations and tests, when relevant to a contested issue, can ‘play a positive and helpful role in the ascertainment of the truth’ ” (People v. Caballero, 34 AD3d 690, 691, quoting People v. Acevedo, 40 N.Y.2d 701, 704).   Although tests and demonstrations should not lightly be rejected when they would play such a role, “courts must be alert to the danger that, when ill-designed or not properly relevant to the point at issue, instead of being helpful they may serve but to mislead, confuse, divert or otherwise prejudice the purposes of the trial” (People v. Acevedo, 40 N.Y.2d at 704;  see People v. Caballero, 34 AD3d at 691).   As such, “the trial court itself must decide in the exercise of a sound discretion based on the nature of the proffered proof and the context in which it is offered, whether the value of the evidence outweighs its potential for prejudice” (People v. Acevedo, 40 N.Y.2d at 704).

Here, since the expert's parameters for his experiment were based on speculation, the conditions created would not have been sufficiently similar to those that existed during the incident and would likely have caused confusion among the jurors.   As such, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in determining that the probative value of the demonstrative evidence did not outweigh its potential for prejudice (id. at 704–705;  see People v. Caballero, 34 AD3d at 691–692;  People v. Walker, 274 A.D.2d 600, 602;  People v. Moolenaar, 262 A.D.2d 60, 60;  People v. Vega, 240 A.D.2d 347, 348;  see generally People v. Estrada, 109 A.D.2d 977, 978–979).

The Supreme Court also providently exercised its discretion in denying the defendant's for-cause challenge of a prospective juror.   The juror, a former police officer, provided unequivocal assurances that he would judge police officer testimony fairly and that he could render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence adduced at trial (see People v. Johnson, 40 AD3d 1011, 1012;  People v. Rolle, 4 AD3d 542, 544).

There is also no merit to the defendant's contentions with regard to the inquiries the Supreme Court made after it learned, during deliberations, that the brother of one of the sworn jurors had suddenly died.   When first notified, the Supreme Court discussed the matter with the juror and the juror assured all parties that his ability to deliberate fairly would not be affected.   As the defendant did not object to the sufficiency of that inquiry or request that any further inquiry be made, any contention with regard to this initial inquiry is unpreserved for appellate review (see People v. Settles, 28 AD3d 591, 591;  People v. Riccardi, 199 A.D.2d 432).   Moreover, contrary to the defendant's contention, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion when it declined to ask the juror further questions when this same matter was raised the following day.   Notably, the Supreme Court addressed the matter by providing the juror with instructions that had been specifically agreed upon by both parties.   Under the circumstances, no further inquiry was necessary (see People v. Buford, 69 N.Y.2d 290, 299;  People v. Argendorf, 76 AD3d 1100, 1100;  People v. Erving, 55 AD3d 419, 419;  People v. Devison, 38 AD3d 203;  People v. Wright, 35 AD3d 172, lv granted 16 NY3d 801).

The sentence imposed was not excessive (see People v. Suitte, 90 A.D.2d 80).



Matthew G. Kiernan

Clerk of the Court



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