Former Suffolk choose Georgia Tschiember, lead prosecutor for serial killer Robert Shulman, has died

Georgia Tschiember, a former Suffolk judge who worked as a prosecutor on the Robert Shulman serial murder case, died Friday after a brief illness at her home in Fort Salonga, her family said. She was 85 years old.

Her 47-year-old husband, retired Suffolk detective John Tschiember, said he and his wife also had a home in Florida, where they spent the winter months as “snowbirds”.

One of the most memorable cases of Tschiember was that of serial killer Robert Shulman of Hicksville, Long Island, convicted in 1999 of the murder of three women for whom he received the death penalty.

Shulman’s sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment after New York State’s death penalty law was repealed as unconstitutional. He died in state prison in 2006 at the age of 52.

The horror of the murders struck Tschiember, the lead prosecutor, deeply and haunted her all her life.

“It was shocking to see these bodies,” said Tschiember Newsday outside a Suffolk courtroom after Shulman was convicted in 1999, and said the brutality of the murders had shaken her to the core.

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In retirement, Tschiember sometimes lectured on the Shulman case to others in the Florida community, complete with graphic crime scene images, said John Tschiember.

After quitting her post as Suffolk District Attorney, Tschiember filled a vacancy as a judge in Suffolk County District Court in 2002 and won the election that same year. She retired as a judge after reaching statutory retirement age in 2006, her husband recalled.

In the years between she left the bank in 2006 and early 2021, Tschiember served as a court attorney, judging car confiscations related to DWI matters, her husband said.

John Tschiember said he was a detective in the Suffolk County Police Department’s robbery squad and remembered a day in the early 1970s when he and his partner walked into a bar on Veterans Highway to get information from an informant.

As he looked around the room, he remembered, he saw a pretty, well-dressed, dark-haired woman whose appearance captivated him. He said he said to his partner, “This is the girl I’m going to marry … she was the noblest woman I have ever seen.”

John Tschiember said he went to the former Georgia Yovanovich and recorded a conversation. Both had previous marriages but married three years after they first met, her husband said.

The former detective said he was encouraging his wife, who worked as a bus driver early on, to complete higher education. She received her college degree from CW Post and a doctorate in law from Hofstra Law School. In 1980, she joined the staff of then Suffolk County’s District Attorney Patrick Henry, where she pursued a career as chief murder prosecutor for over two decades, her husband said. She later became a district judge.

During her legal career, Tschiember was a past president of the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association and a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association. Tschiember and her husband, of Serbian and Russian descent, often traveled to Europe, including England, Russia, Spain, France and Germany.

After Tschiember fell ill earlier this year, she spent her time at home sitting in a wheelchair on a terrace of her house and gazing peacefully at the nearby marshland, said John Tschiember.

Paul Gianelli, who defended Shulman, praised the late judge.

“The criminal chamber has lost one of its best lawyers,” said Gianelli. “Georgia was prepared, steadfast, and always polite.”

In addition to her husband, Tschiember leaves daughters Dawn Antonucci and her husband Tony from Oyster Bay and Shelly and Darlene Tschiember, both from Florida, as well as Shelly’s husband Nick Longobardi and her close friend and carer Irmeli Despasquale. In addition, they survive nieces and nephews.

A wake for Tschiember was held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Clayton Funeral Home in Kings Park. Funeral plans are private.

Anthony M. DeStefano has been a Newsday reporter since 1986, covering law enforcement, criminal justice and legal matters from his New York offices.