WE NEED YOUR HELP — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

Freeporter sentenced to life — again — for murdering two Baldwin men

Posted

Freeporter John Pierotti, 66, will continue his life sentence without parole, announced Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas on Feb. 24, after a jury found him guilty during his retrial over the shooting deaths of two Baldwin men in 1998.  

After two days of deliberation, the jury sentenced Pierotti to continue the life sentence that 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.

“For the past 22 years, John Pierotti has shown absolutely no remorse for murdering Gerard Kennedy and Willis Frost,” Singas said. “He senselessly shot these two men at point-blank range outside a bar. The Kennedy and Frost families have suffered greatly these last two decades, and I thank them for their extraordinary perseverance during the retrial.”

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 Feb. 10, 2020, 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 trial, his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Ferris, with whom he shares three children, presented 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 that they kept in the house, and when  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 that 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.

Senior litigation counsel Nicole Aloise, of the Major Offense Bureau, and Senior Appellate Counsel Sarah Rabinowitz, of the Appeals Bureau, prosecuted the case. Attorney Joseph Lo Piccolo represented Pierotti.