Ex-Cheerleader Heads for Party After 3 1/2 Months in Jail : Teen Who Paid for Father's Death Free

United Press International

An 18-year-old former cheerleader who paid a classmate to kill her father because she said he forced her to have sex with him was freed from jail today and had a belated Christmas celebration with her brother and her boyfriend's family.

A smiling Cheryl Pierson emerged from the Suffolk County Jail after serving 14 weeks with time off for good behavior and drove off with her boyfriend, Robert Cuccio, 20, and her brother, James, 22, in a white stretch limousine blaring rock music.

Pierson was greeted by a splash of 102 yellow ribbons--one for each day she was in jail--on the trees at Cuccio's home, where she said she wants to help other victims of incest.

"I'm just glad it's all over," Pierson told reporters soon after walking out of the jail.

Wearing blue jeans and a black jacket, the blonde teen-ager said she had lost 15 pounds since she went to jail Oct. 5. "The food wasn't that bad. It's just that I didn't have that much of an appetite," she said.

Pierson pleaded guilty last March to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter in the death of her father. The former cheerleader admitted paying a classmate $400 to kill James Pierson Sr., 42, who was shot in the driveway of their home Feb. 5, 1986.

During pre-sentencing hearings last fall, the former cheerleader recounted how her father began sexually abusing her when she was 11. She told a Long Island judge that she paid Sean Pica, 19, a classmate, $400 to kill Pierson. Pica also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a prison term of eight to 24 years.

Cheryl served 3 1/2 months of a six-month sentence.

Cuccio, who delivered the $400 to Pica after the murder, pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation and was placed on five years probation.

Cuccio's mother said he has been visiting Cheryl almost daily and hopes to marry her.

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