The widow of slain Long Island NYPD cop James Nemorin told jurors in the death penalty retrial of Ronell Wilson that her family had been "broken and scarred by the decision of one man," in testimony punctuated by sobs as prosecutors rested their case Tuesday.
"Part of me is still hoping that I wake up and this only be a dream," said Rose Nemorin John, 41, of Bellmore, appearing in federal court in Brooklyn. "I ask God every day why, why such a great gift, a great human being, was taken away from us. I haven't received any answers yet."
Speaking softly and halting frequently to collect herself, Nemorin John said that for years after the 2003 murder of her husband during an undercover NYPD gun buy on Staten Island, she and her three children visited the cemetery on holidays, bringing candy and presents to his grave.
"We no longer celebrate Father's Day at home," she said. "Instead, we go to the cemetery and I get to watch our children talk and hug a cold wall. It breaks my heart. . . . The children's notes read, 'I love you daddy. I miss you. We wish you were here to celebrate Father's Day with us. We hope you are having a good time in heaven with God.' "
Wilson, 31, was convicted in 2006 of executing Nemorin, who lived in Baldwin Harbor, and partner Rodney Andrews of Middle Village with shots to the back of their heads, and dumping their bodies on a dimly lit Staten Island street in March 2003. An appeals court in 2011 ordered a retrial on the penalty.
In testimony last week, Nemorin's daughter Sarah, 12, testified that she "prays that her father gets the justice that he deserves so that he can rest in peace."
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis Tuesday unsealed a defense motion for a mistrial, claiming the little girl essentially asked the jury to execute Wilson, which is not allowed.
The judge denied the motion.
Nemorin John described her husband as a large, gentle Haitian-American from a big family whose death had been particularly hard on his two sons and baby daughter Sarah, who were 7, 5 and 18 months when he died.
His oldest son, who just graduated from high school, is "confused" about being a cop, she said, and they recently argued about putting back pictures of his dad when she rearranged his room.
Even when she agreed to put just a single picture on his night table, she testified, he asked her to move it farther from the bed, telling her, "It's hard. It's too hard to look at."
After Nemorin John's testimony was complete, Garaufis told her she could leave. Instead, she froze the courtroom with a high-pitched wail as she sat shaking and sobbing.
When she finally left the courtroom, Wilson's lawyers asked Garaufis to release the jury for the day, to provide a break before the defense case begins. The judge agreed.