A Bronx man has been indicted by a borough grand jury for the August 2021 stabbing death of a 65-year-old Jackson Heights attorney, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Friday.
Nando Perez, 64, was arraigned on Thursday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant on an indictment charging him with murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Pandit-Durant continued to hold the defendant without bail and ordered him to return to court on Oct. 12.
According to the charges, sometime after 4:20 p.m. on Aug. 4, Perez entered the law office of Charles Zolot on 82nd Avenue near 37th Street in Jackson Heights. The defendant, who had once been a client of the attorney, allegedly attacked Zolot in his second-floor conference room, stabbing him approximately 20 times before fleeing the scene. The lawyer’s body was found the following morning by a custodian.
“This was a brutal killing that stunned the community. The victim was found dead inside his Jackson Heights office with multiple stab wounds and a former client is accused of settling a disagreement with violence,” DA Katz said.
A fatal stabbing at a Toronto law firm has lawyers revisiting their security measures this week, amid the legal community’s outpouring of grief and support for the family of a co-worker attacked on the job.
Julia Ferguson, 29, a receptionist at Hicks Adams LLP, a Toronto criminal law boutique, was at work Sept. 2 when she was assaulted by a man with a knife, who fled afterward. Grievously wounded, she underwent heart surgery, but died three days later when doctors informed her family that she had suffered brain death due to a deprivation of oxygen after the attack.
Sadness abounded within the defence counsel and wider legal community for the loss of the person described as a “beautiful and kind soul” in a GoFundMe campaign set up to support her family that raised more than $75,000 in three days. She leaves behind her mother Lynn, her brother Chris Ferguson, her boyfriend Jesse, as well as other family and friends.
Threats of violence against lawyers, especially Crowns, defence counsel and family law lawyers, are not uncommon in Canada. There have also been murders and other serious physical attacks over the years. In 2015 two Quebec jurists, a lawyer and a notary, were fatally shot at work by the lawyer’s ex-client. The next morning in Winnipeg, a family law lawyer was maimed by the explosion of a boobytrapped device sent to her anonymously by a client’s ex-husband.
Courthouse security was also upgraded as a result of a 1982 shooting in a civil case heard in Toronto’s Osgoode Hall which killed a lawyer and his client and left another client paralyzed. Five years earlier a family law lawyer was shot and killed in the hallway of a Toronto courthouse by a former client’s husband during divorce proceedings.
There are known instances of defence counsel being beat up, while prosecutors are also known to face threats with some regularity. Trudell said that criminal lawyers not only do not benefit from the physical security measures protecting Crown counsel in their offices, threats they may experience can also raise issues of solicitor-client privilege for defence counsel.
In 2005, the Ontario Bar Association issued a personal security handbook for lawyers. On behalf of Canadian Bar Association, its new president Stephen Rotstein expressed condolences after Ferguson’s death.