A 56-year-old lawyer with a "mental illness" fatally stabbed her mother inside her Oceanside home during an argument, officials said Tuesday.
Suzan Grossman-Kerner, an attorney from Oceanside, was ordered held without bail Tuesday morning during her arraignment at First District Court in Hempstead. She pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in the Monday stabbing death of her mother, Irma Grossman, 79.
Grossman-Kerner, wearing what appeared to be a hospital gown, spoke only to her lawyer during the court proceeding.
Her lawyer, Todd D. Greenberg, said his client suffers from mental illness. He asked the court for "immediate psychiatric care" for his client, who he said is "very distraught" and a "very decent person, despite what happened here."
"We need a very, very stringent suicide watch on my client," he told the court. "She's been hospitalized before; she's made suicide attempts in the past."
He continued, "One can say, of course, if the allegations are true -- that you stabbed your mother -- one could imagine there's a serious mental illness involved in this. What is clear is that she does have prior psychiatric history, very serious psychiatric history. And most likely, that psychiatric history will enter into the defense of this action. . . . She has a mental illness and we're gonna deal with that within the court system."
Grossman-Kerner's husband, Sherman Kerner, said in a brief interview: "The impact to a family is what anyone would imagine it is: It's a tragedy for my family, my three children. Of course, my mother-in-law was a wonderful woman; my wife, who was a wonderful mother and of course, it's something that stays forever. . . . It makes you sad for everybody involved. It's a tragedy for everybody involved."
Kerner, an attorney with a firm in Farmingdale, declined to answer further questions, referring a reporter to his wife's criminal defense attorney.
At a news briefing, Nassau County police homicide squad commanding officer Det. Capt. John Azzata, said that on Monday, "sometime prior to 12:48" p.m., Grossman-Kerner went to her mother's Terrell Avenue home in Oceanside, where the two argued over "her daughter's ongoing medical conditions."
"The daughter, enraged, ultimately stabbed her mother to death," said Azzata, who added there is no record of prior domestic incidents at that address or between the mother and daughter. Grossman was pronounced dead at South Nassau Communities Hospital about 2:55 p.m.
Azzata said police recovered a kitchen knife but still are working to positively identify it as the murder weapon.
Grossman-Kerner called 911 about 12:48 p.m. and told authorities her mother was assaulted. She was arrested at the scene.
Nassau Assistant District Attorney Michael Walsh of the major offense bureau said in court that Grossman-Kerner stabbed her mother "multiple times" in the "head and neck." He said Grossman-Kerner made "statements" to police, but did not elaborate.
Walsh asked for Grossman-Kerner to be remanded and said she "faces the potential of life in prison" if convicted.
Neighbors -- some in tears -- placed flowers outside Grossman's home Tuesday.
"She was a very, very nice woman," said Chyann Kelly, 32. "She was a wonderful person."
Kelly said she knew both women but never had any indication of trouble. "You don't know what goes on in people's houses. All I know is they were very friendly people -- the mother, the daughter -- they were very nice people. . . . It's sad; It's very sad."