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Deer Park man convicted of murder hangs himself

Herve Jeannot, accused of murdering Robert Calabrese Jr.,

Herve Jeannot, accused of murdering Robert Calabrese Jr., leaves Nassau County Courthouse after opening statements in his fourth murder trial, Monday. (Sept. 27, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Herve Jeannot hanged himself in his cell at the Nassau County jail, police and correction officials said.

Jeannot, 29, of Deer Park, was convicted Tuesday afternoon of killing Bobby Calabrese in a 2004 murder-for-hire plot. At about 11:45 p.m., he was found hanging from a bedsheet in his cell in the East Meadow facility, Nassau police said. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday at Nassau University Medical Center.

The trial had been Jeannot's fourth on the same charges; his first two trials ended in jury deadlock and a third ended in a conviction but was overturned on a technicality. He was facing a sentence of up to life in prison without parole.

Police said Jeannot left a suicide note in his cell but would not describe what it said except to say that it "made no reference to any crime he was convicted of." He had not been on suicide watch, police said.

Jail officials said Jeannot was in the general population and had been incarcerated since March 24, 2009. They declined to comment further.

It was the third suicide at the jail this year, and the second this month, a state Commission of Correction spokesman said. The commission and Nassau police said they will investigate Jeannot's death, as is their standard procedure.

Jeannot's family declined to comment through attorney William Petrillo of Rockville Centre. But Petrillo said Jeannot's parents, who sat through each trial, were "understandably distraught."

"Despite what he was convicted of, the man I got to know was a respectful, kind gentleman who was well liked by many," Petrillo said. "His death is the final tragedy in this case."

Jeannot spent nearly three days testifying in his own defense, appearing calm and well-spoken and often addressing jurors directly. But in cross-examination, prosecutor Sheryl Anania highlighted inconsistencies in his testimony.

John Caher, spokesman for the state Commission of Correction, which oversees jails, said a thorough investigation will be conducted and will conclude with a public report.

Robert Calabrese, father of the 24-year-old Long Beach man Jeannot was convicted of killing, said there was no joy for him at hearing the news.

"We understand what it is to lose a son," he said. "There is no extra joy or sorrow for us upon learning this news."

Jeannot appeared sanguine Tuesday as the jury read its verdict. He stood calmly while court officers handcuffed him, and he nodded solemnly to his parents as he was led from the room.

Earlier this month at the Nassau jail, Gasparino Godino, 31, of Bethpage, who was facing robbery and drug charges, was found hanging in his cell, also by a bedsheet, within a day of being admitted.

Godino's parents said their son should have been more closely watched, especially since he had epilepsy, serious drug problems and was on anti-depressants. The Godinos have hired an attorney to try to find out more about what happened in the jail.

"We don't want this to happen to anyone else," his father, Charles Godino, said.

With Matthew Chayes

and Andrew Strickler

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