Goey Charles, 33, has been convicted of second-degree murder. His sentencing is slated for Nov. 29
Vanessa Pierre had picked out a name for her baby girl. Six months pregnant, the nurse practitioner was excited to be a new mom.
But Pierre’s plans were suddenly cut short when in the early morning hours of October 23, 2020, her boyfriend pulled to the side of the Horace Harding Expressway in Queens, N.Y., and strangled the mother of his unborn child, then dumped her limp body on the side of the road.
He drove away, leaving the 29-year-old with a pair of gray sweatpants wrapped around her neck.
A Queens County jury convicted Goey Charles, now 33, of her murder in the second degree Wednesday.
“We achieved justice for Vanessa,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement following the conviction. “The verdict does not bring her back, but it holds her killer accountable.”
PEOPLE was unable to reach Charles’s defense lawyer, Kevin O’Donnell, on Thursday.
Pierre’s murder was caught on surveillance footage, described by prosecutors in a series of press releases.
In the dark of 2:50 a.m. that October morning, Charles is seen pulling to the side of the road in a white Dodge Challenger that law enforcement later determined was registered to Pierre, who was sitting in the backseat.
Forty minutes later, Charles got out of the driver’s seat and climbed into the backseat with Pierre.
Illuminated by the car’s light, Pierre’s moving body was later seen in the surveillance footage, which captured her last moments.
Charles shut the car door and soon after, Pierre’s body went motionless.
He remained in the backseat with Pierre's rigid body stretched along the backseat for about an hour. Then, shortly after 4:30 a.m., he got back out, dragging her body out with him.
Charles discarded her body on the sidewalk by the Horace Harding Expressway, then drove off in her car.
About an hour and a half passed. Then, around 6:00 a.m., an city bus driver passing by saw the pregnant woman lying on the side of the road.
Emergency workers called to the scene pronounced her dead.
In a previous statement announcing Charles’s indictment for murder a few months later in December 2020, Katz called Pierre’s killing “a despicable, irreparable act of domestic violence.”
Nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute – or more than 10 million women and men each year – in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The coalition further estimates that in the U.S. nearly half of all Black women, like Pierre, have been subjected to “intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.” And more than half of all Black women who are murdered in the country are killed at the hands of their intimate partner, according to the coalition.
Charles faces 25 years behind bars for his second-degree murder conviction. He is scheduled to go in front of Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder for sentencing November 29.
Following his conviction, Katz said in a statement that her office would suggest that Charles be imprisoned “for a very long time for the brutality and callousness he showed in murdering and abandoning the lifeless body of his girlfriend, the woman who was to be the mother of his child.”
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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