A Nassau County jury found John Pierotti, 65, guilty of murder on Feb. 28 during his retrial over the shooting of two Baldwin men in 1998. After two days of deliberation, the jury sentenced Pierotti to continue the life-sentence he was originally given in his 2000 trial for shooting Gerard Kennedy Jr., 36, and Willis Frost, 41, outside the Dragger Inn Tavern on Dec. 23, 1998.
“The families of Gerard Kennedy and Willis Frost have shown tremendous resolve sitting through this retrial, nearly 20 years after John Pierotti was initially convicted for murdering their loved ones," Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in news release. "I thank them for their patience during this ordeal and hope that today’s verdict finally brings them the closure that they deserve.”
In 2018, a federal judge found that Pierotti suffered from a severe hearing-impairment and could not defend himself properly in the first trial .
The 2018 ruling stated that Pierotti’s impairment “essentially rendered [him] absent for significant portions of his trial, making it “fundamentally unfair.”
In the retrial, which began on Feb. 10 before Judge Helene Gugerty, Pierotti wore special hearing aids and 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, prosecutors contended that Pierotti had brought his own gun to the scene of the murders. During the 2000 trail, his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Ferris, with whom he shares three children, presented a damning testimony against him. 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."
While Pierotti’s lawyer, Dana Grossblatt, argued that Kennedy and Frost were the ones armed, and the Pierotti had wrestled the gun away from them, the prosecutor, Martin Meaney, said that when Pierotti took control of the gun, he was no longer in any danger and could not claim that he killed the men in self-defense.
The jury who convicted Pierotti had no knowledge of the original trial.