Herve Jeannot leaves Nassau County Courthouse with other prisoners after...

Herve Jeannot leaves Nassau County Courthouse with other prisoners after being found guilty in his fourth murder trial, Tuesday. (Oct. 26, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The jury foreman had not finished saying the word "guilty" when a short, deafening whoop of joy burst forth in the Mineola courtroom.

After six years and four trials, a jury deliberated for only a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon before convicting defendant Herve Jeannot of killing Bobby Calabrese in a 2004 murder-for-hire plot.

Though it was not the first time Jeannot was convicted of first-degree murder in Calabrese's death, the family of the 24-year-old Long Beach man believes that this conviction will stick.

"It's done," Calabrese's father, Robert, said after the verdict. "The truth is the truth, and it finally came out."

Jeannot will face a sentence of life in prison when Nassau County Judge Meryl Berkowitz sentences him Dec. 10.

Jeannot's lawyer, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre, declined to comment after the verdict.

It is rare for a defendant to undergo even two trials on the same charges, never mind four times, experts said. Jeannot's first two trials, in 2005 and 2006, ended with hung juries. The third, also in 2006, ended in a conviction but was reversed when an appellate court overturned it last year.

Prosecutors said Jeannot, 30, of Deer Park, accepted $4,000 from his friend, Mark Orlando, to kill Calabrese, a bet runner to whom Orlando owed $17,000. Orlando, 39, of Bay Shore, was convicted of second-degree murder in 2005 after one trial and is serving a 25-years-to-life sentence.

Bobby Calabrese's mother, Kathy Calabrese, slumped down in her chair in the courtroom and put her hands over her face as the jury returned its verdict. Her husband and son next to her doubled over at the news, fists clenched and weeping with joy.

Robert Calabrese said he does not fear that this conviction will be overturned. Petrillo put up an excellent defense, he said, and while that worried him during the trial, it gives him some comfort now.

"He had the best (lawyer), and they convicted him anyway," he said.

On the stand, Jeannot, who confessed to police, contended that it was Orlando who had shot Calabrese. He said he confessed out of fear of the police, and of Orlando.

The Calabrese family shouted "Thank you!" to jurors as they were escorted to their cars by court officers.

Jurors declined to comment on their decision.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who sat in on parts of the trial, said the key to the conviction was the way prosecutor Sheryl Anania cross-examined Jeannot last week when he took the stand.

"She enabled the jury to see who he was," Rice said. "The person he presented on direct examination and the one he was shown to be on cross-examination were two different people."


Correction: An earlier version of this story should have said that Jeannot faces a sentence of life in prison.

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