John Pierotti leaves the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on...

John Pierotti leaves the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on Monday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A judge denied a mistrial Tuesday for a man being retried in a deadly double shooting in Baldwin, a ruling that came after one juror and two alternate jurors reported seeing or hearing snippets of news on the case.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty, while denying the defense's mistrial motion, did grant a request from the attorney for John Pierotti to dismiss one of those alternate jurors.

That alternate panelist — a teacher —said she heard part of a News 12 Long Island report on the case on TV when she came out of the shower and immediately turned it off.

“It’s nothing that you did wrong. You followed the court’s instructions," Gugerty said while dismissing her, citing an "abundance of caution" and no objection from the prosecution.

Another female juror also told Gugerty that same alternate juror had referred to hearing a lot of the News 12 report.

Pierotti, 65, formerly of Freeport, is standing trial for a second time following his 2000 conviction in the slayings of carpenters Gerard Kennedy Jr., 36, and Willis Frost, 41, outside a Baldwin tavern.

The prosecution contends Pierotti shot the unarmed men who had been sitting in a van belonging to Frost’s employer on Dec. 23, 1998, after the two friends left the Dragger Inn to use drugs.

The defense claims one of the two men, who’d been smoking marijuana, confronted Pierotti with a gun after Pierotti approached for a second time to ask for help starting his own van on a cold night.

That sparked a struggle that ended with Pierotti firing the gun in self-defense outside the Milburn Avenue bar, according to his attorney, Dana Grossblatt.

A Nassau judge sentenced Pierotti to life in prison without parole after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and weapon charges.

But a federal judge ruled in 2018 that Pierotti had a severe hearing impairment that essentially made him absent from his first trial, making it “fundamentally unfair.”

The decision, which followed years of appeals from Pierotti, ordered prison officials to release him unless Nassau prosecutors took steps to retry him.

Current jurors haven't been told about the prior verdict.

Before testimony began Tuesday, the one juror and two alternate jurors sent notes to Gugerty saying they’d been unable to avoid news coverage. Under the law, panelists are ordered to do so to ensure they decide the case based only on evidence.

Gugerty questioned jurors one by one, with a male juror who wrote a note reporting he saw a headline on Newsday’s website.

“I saw the defendant’s picture and I immediately got off of that page,” he said, adding that he also turned off a WCBS Newsradio 880 introduction on the case.

The juror seemed to hesitate when Gugerty asked if anything would affect his ability to be 100 percent fair, but he agreed he still could be as she continued to question him.

Another alternate juror reported she heard on News 12 about a Baldwin double slaying, including Pierotti's name and something about a hearing aid, but “within 10 seconds” turned off the TV.

“I was trying to make noises so I didn’t hear,” she added.

Grossblatt, in asking for a mistrial, said she believed three panelists were exposed to news that mentioned her client’s first trial, was concerned about "continued press coverage" and would seek a change of venue if the trial started anew.

But prosecutor Martin Meaney objected to a mistrial and the judge ruled against the defense, adding that “the press is authorized to be here and write whatever they see fit.”

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