ITHACA, N.Y. — In the past two months or so, Assistant District Attorney Eliza Filipowski has handled three felony trials in Tompkins County, including a homicide case that received national attention after Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire was murdered at Cornell University last summer.
She landed a conviction and Nagee Green will be sentenced for second-degree murder next month.
“Certainly one of the biggest ones was the investigation of the trial into the death of…student Anthony Nazaire and I say his name because I think that’s the important name to be saying,” Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bonavia said.
He said that when the investigation into the homicide began, he wasn’t sure if there would ever be a conviction in a case with so many people involved. Nazaire was fatally stabbed on a dark grassy area during a street brawl at Cornell University last summer.
“I thought to myself ‘They are never going to figure out who did this,’” he said.
But collaborating with investigators, family members and other people involved in building the case against Green, Filipowski was able to land a guilty verdict during a second trial after the first set of jurors was deadlocked on the murder charge.
“It was one of the most moving closing arguments I have ever heard in the courtroom,” Bonavia said.”That’s sort of what I think we’re recognizing today, in addition to the other trials she has done.”
Ithaca Deputy Police Chief Vincent Monticello was among those who also worked on the homicide case with Filipowski.
“One of the things that impressed me was the fact that she stayed connected with the family, which I feel is very important. Sometimes we seem to forget about the family and how they’re affected in a homicide (throughout the course of an investigation)…” Monticello said. “It’s just been a pleasure working with Eliza. And so on behalf of our department, thank you. It’s well deserved.”
The Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award began in the 1980s to acknowledge the good work of Ithaca police officers. Over the years, the award has been extended to include police officers from throughout the county and agencies that work closely with police departments, such as the DA’s office.
“When I took office this January, I knew that we had a really fantastic staff of attorneys working in the DA’s office,” District Attorney Matt Van Houten said. “One of the superstars in the office is Eliza Filipowski…It was a no-brainer for this recognition to take place and I’m proud to do it.”
Van Houten said, “Probably one of the most remarkable things is the passion and relationships she formulates with victims and people involved in the cases. It’s extraordinary.”