After 20 years in prison, John Pierotti, of Freeport, stepped back into court again on Feb. 10 after an appellate court granted him a retrial over a 1998 double-murder case in Baldwin. The ruling found that Pierotti, 65, suffered from a severe hearing-impairment and could not defend himself properly when a Nassau County jury sentenced him to life in prison for shooting Gerard Kennedy Jr., 36, and Willis Frost, 41, outside the Dragger Inn Tavern on Dec. 23, 1998.
The ruling stated that Pierotti’s impairment “essentially rendered [him] absent for significant portions of his trail, making it “fundamentally unfair.”
Pierotti is now wearing special headphones to amplify his hearing at the retrial.
Although Pierotti has always stated that he acted in self-defense when he shot Kennedy and Frost, his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Ferris, with whom he shares three children, presented a damning testimony against him in the original trial. According to then-Assistant District Attorney Michael Walsh, Ferris told the jurors that just hours before the murders, her boyfriend had demanded she give him the gun they kept in the house, and when Mr. Pierotti returned home at around 2 P.M., he allegedly told her that he had been in a fight and "just killed two people."