Mother and son charged in death of 17-year-old New London girl
New London ― A mother and son were arrested Thursday morning on manslaughter charges in connection with the death of 17-year-old New London High School student D’Nazia Uzzle.
N’Shon Cherry, 19, and Erica Cherry, 40, both of 392 Jefferson Ave., are each charged with accessory to first-degree manslaughter, accessory to first-degree strangulation, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree assault and cruelty to persons. N’Shon Cherry is Uzzle’s former boyfriend.
Both were arraigned Thursday afternoon in an emotionally charged New London courtroom where proceedings briefly were halted when supporters of the two families exchanged shouts and threats during N’Shon Cherry’s court appearance. Court marshals were joined by state police in separating the two sides. Judge Patrick Caruso warned people that any other outbursts would lead to people being removed from the courtroom.
Uzzle’s family, including her mother and grandmother, joined with about 30 supporters at the courthouse, some wearing pink T-shirts or sweatshirts bearing Uzzle’s photo and the phrase “Justice for Nay,” a reference to Uzzle’s nickname.
Linda Lorenzo of New London, Uzzle’s grandmother, said the entire family is devastated by the loss of “Nay” and that people showed up on Thursday to see that justice was served.
“Nay was just a truly lovable person who cracked jokes on me constantly,” Lorenzo said. “She hadn’t even lived her life. She was thrilled about graduating, she couldn’t wait.”
“It’s just not the same anymore,” she said.
Uzzle’s mother, Kim Uzzle, cried outside the courthouse, where she said she wanted justice for her daughter. Even with the arrests, she said, “I know for sure this is not going to bring my daughter back.”
Lorenzo said the family has continued to question what exactly happened on the night of Uzzle’s death. The documents released after the Cherrys’ court appearance shed light on some of the events of the night in question.
At 3:09 a.m. on April 15, police were called to Erica Cherry’s home at at 392 Jefferson Ave. for reports of an unresponsive teen. Uzzle was treated at the scene but had no pulse and was pronounced dead shortly after she was taken to the hospital.
Both N’Shon and Erica Cherry were treated for what police described at the time as “non-life-threatening stab wounds.” Erica Cherry suffered a laceration to her left thigh. N’Shon Cherry was treated for a laceration on his face and his shoulder.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Uzzle’s death a homicide, caused by “sudden death during a physical altercation with neck compression and blunt injuries.” The medical examiner determined it was the combination of injuries that led to her death.
N’Shon and Erica Cherry gave varying accounts of the events that evening when questioned by police, the arrest warrant affidavit in the case shows. Uzzle had attended a party and was intoxicated when N’Shon brought her to his mother’s home, the report says. Uzzle became upset after seeing a text N’Shon Cherry had sent to another woman. An argument ensued and became physical, resulting in Uzzle biting N’Shon Cherry’s lip, N’Shon Cherry told police.
N’Shon told police he was holding Uzzle down on the bed when his mother became involved.
“Erica grabbed (Uzzle) by the hair and pulled her off the bed and onto the floor,” the warrant states.
Uzzle fought back and apparently stabbed Erica Cherry in the thigh.
“Erica then picked (Uzzle) up off of the floor by her hair and started dragging her down the stairs by her hair. (Uzzle) was yelling ‘get off me.’ N’Shon stated that when (Uzzle) got to the middle of the stairs she stopped talking. Erica dragged (Uzzle) to the bottom of the stairs,” the warrant states.
Erica Cherry claims she did not pull Uzzle by the hair and told police Uzzle had pulled out the knife, swinging it wildly at her and her son.
Uzzle was gasping for air by the time she got downstairs, was moved to a couch where she was awake but not speaking and “looked out of it,“ the warrant states. Uzzle, during an examination at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, was found to have dried blood on both her hands, bottoms of her feet and hair.
Police said she also was bruised with ”minor abrasions in various stages on legs, arms, hands, torso, eyes and behind her ear,“ the warrant states. There was also reddening on the right side of her neck, right cheek and above her left eye.
Police, during investigation, spoke to three unidentified witnesses who were at the home at the time and had heard Erica Cherry say, after N’Shon and Uzzle arrived, “I already told you not let this girl into my house,” the warrant states. N’Shon Cherry and Uzzle had an apparent past history of fighting. Later, one witness recalled hearing Erica Cherry say ”she stabbed me,“ and saw N’Shon and Erica Cherry come down the stairs holding Uzzle’s arms.
A search of Erica Cherry’s phone records revealed that she had made at least eight calls and sent several texts starting at 2:54 a.m., a police report shows. The 911 call was made at 3:08 a.m.
N’Shon Cherry was led into the courtroom on Thursday in sweat pants and a sweat shirt, keeping his head down while some people in attendance called out. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf by defense attorney Samuel Nassetta.
Nassetta had argued for a lower bond, saying N’Shon Cherry has strong ties to the community, works at Langley’s Restaurant at the Great Neck Country Club in Waterford and has a family that intends to support him throughout the process.
Both he and his mother were ordered held on a $250,000 bond. N’Shon Cherry’s case was transferred to New London’s Part A court for serious felonies where he is scheduled to appear Oct. 18.
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