Dad laments drowned Coney Island girl at funeral as he insists accused killer mom is no ‘monster’

The dad of one of the three kids allegedly drowned by their mother on Coney Island said Monday that he can’t even bear to think about how his 4-year-old daughter died — but still insisted his ex isn’t a “monster.’’

Shamir Small spoke after his child Liliana “Lily” Stephen was laid to rest wearing a pink dress in a white casket, which was carried out of the Caribe Funeral Home in Flatlands, Brooklyn, by weeping female relatives. 

“I don’t want her to be remembered or known as how she passed,” the dad said of his daughter, who was allegedly killed along with her two half-siblings by their deeply disturbed mom.

“I don’t even want to hear about it anymore,” he said. “Don’t want to see it, read it, or nothing. I just want everyone to remember that Lily, for four years, was loved by all her family members.

“Contrary to what happened, she was loved by her mother,” Small said.

“I don’t care what no one says,” he said. “What [the suspect] did was monstrous, but she herself is not a monster.”

Liliana Stephen.
Liliana Stephen was allegedly killed along with her two half-siblings by their mom.
Liliana Stephen with her dad.
Liliana Stephen with her dad, Shamir Small.

Lily and her two brothers — Zachary Merdy, 7, and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev — were allegedly drowned by their mom, Erin Merdy, in the surf at Coney Island in Brooklyn on Sept. 12.

Merdy, 30, is awaiting arraignment on murder charges but has not been medically cleared to appear in court, Brooklyn prosecutors said Monday.

Under state law, Brooklyn prosecutors have until tomorrow to announce if a grand jury voted to indict her on murder charges in the case.

Lily’s funeral was the first held for the young victims.

A Barbie doll was placed on her little casket during the emotional service. She was to be buried in Cypress, Queens.

“My favorite memories of Lily is mainly her wanting to dance,” Small said. “She did ballet, rhythm gymnastics. She clearly loved it more than she loved me because she did not want me to take her away from it.”

Mourners were greeted by a large photo of a smiling Lily at the entrance to the funeral home, with a balloon nearby with the words, “I love you.”

“There isn’t really any clear answers that someone can give that gives reasonable reason or reasonable excuses,” the Rev. Heston Williams, pastor of Brooklyn’s Purpose Life Church, said outside the funeral home.

Williams described Lily as “a sassy young lady that was full of life.

Erin Merdy.
Erin Merdy is awaiting arraignment on murder charges but has not been medically cleared to appear in court.
Paul Martinka
Shamir Small.
Rev. Heston Williams, who presided over the funeral, said there were no “clear answers” or “reasonable excuses” for the tragedy.
Paul Martinka

“We refer to her in the present tense, and not the past tense,” he said. “So, it’s not that she was but that she is. Which is part of the message I will be sharing with the family.”

As for her accused murderous mom, Williams said he is praying for her.

“We don’t use this as an opportunity to condemn or to speak evil,” he said. “This is a situation no one can fathom, no one can understand. I do believe that it is our responsibility, at least myself as a pastor, to pray for everyone and anyone.” 

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