‘Living in terror’ Harlem man charged with murdering great uncle claims self-defense

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By Dan Sears

A Harlem man police charged with fatally stabbing his great uncle acted in self-defense, his attorney said Saturday, adding his uncle attacked him with a butcher knife and that he and his family had been “living in terror” of the 74-year-old victim.

Police arrested Nehemiah Terry-Peterson, 23, Friday evening on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon over the death of Simon Beverly, his great uncle.

Authorities said they found Beverly with a stab wound to his torso early Friday morning in the home the family shared on West 151st Street, near Broadway in West Harlem. Beverly was pronounced dead at the scene at around 6 a.m. Friday.

But Terry-Peterson’s attorney said he was defending himself and there is surveillance footage to prove it.

“Mr. Terry-Peterson and his family have been living in terror of his great uncle, going so far as to install security cameras in Mr. Terry-Peterson’s own bedroom,” said Elizabeth Fischer, an attorney with Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem who is representing him in the case. “The camera footage is clear — what happened here was not a crime committed by Mr. Terry-Peterson.”

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Fischer said Terry-Peterson had been alone in his bedroom before daybreak on Friday when Beverly “barged in with a large butcher knife.”

“Mr. Terry-Peterson did everything he could to avoid this tragedy,” Fischer said. “There is no question about what happened here and the District Attorney should immediately dismiss the case against Mr. Terry-Peterson.”

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg referred a request for comment back to police, which did not immediately respond to further inquiries. Terry-Peterson has yet to be arraigned by prosecutors.

Certain self-defense cases in New York City have become highly publicized in recent years.

Bragg’s office dropped murder charges against Harlem bodega worker Jose Alba in 2022 after Alba argued he’d defended himself from an attacker, who was shown in surveillance footage to have accosted him behind the counter. The charges drew sustained outcry and Bragg ultimately determined to not pursue the murder charge.

Jordan Williams, a 20-year-old man who fatally stabbed a fellow passenger on the J train last year, likewise had manslaughter charges dropped after officials determined he was defending himself and his girlfriend.

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