Aquebogue murder trial ends in mistrial after second juror dismissed

The trial of a woman charged with the second-degree murder of an Aquebogue man was declared a mistrial by Judge Timothy Mazzei after a second juror was dismissed from the case on Tuesday.

According to Judge Mazzei, the juror recognized someone he serves in a fire department with in the parking lot while leaving the Riverside courthouse on Monday. That person turned out to be a relative of the defendant, Donatila O’Mahony, 42.

“Things like this don’t happen often,” Judge Mazzei told the panel of jurors before they were dismissed shortly after noon, adding that his declaration of a mistrial is “unfortunate” for many reasons. “It’s nobody’s fault, but it happened,” he said.

The jury of 10 men and two women heard closing statements and began deliberating Monday. Deliberations continued briefly Tuesday morning until Juror No. 4 told Judge Mazzei that he felt he “could not continue to be fair and impartial” in the case.

A family member of murder victim Lee Pedersen left the courtroom sobbing as the judge spoke. She had been present each day of the nearly three-week trial.

The mistrial comes one day after another juror, Juror No. 12, was dismissed from the case after he suffered an apparent anxiety attack while listening to assistant district attorney Frank Schroeder deliver his summation Monday. Both sides agreed to allow one of four alternator jurors to take his place on Monday.

While there were three remaining alternate jurors that could have replaced Juror No. 4, Ms. O’Mahony, through defense attorney Ira Weissman, did not consent to replacing the juror, which the judge noted is within her rights.

The case is expected to be retried in the spring.

“It will certainly take place, although not this year,” Judge Mazzei said.

Ms. O’Mahony will continue to be remanded to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead without bail, officials said.

Lee Pedersen, 69, a part-time resident of Aquebogue, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the back of his head on March 8, 2020. Homicide squad detectives later arrested Ms. O’Mahony and charged her with second-degree murder for his death. She was also charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and second-degree attempted grand larceny for allegedly forging a copy of Mr. Pedersen’s will in the weeks following his death.

Ms. O’Mahony’s trial began Sept. 28 and jurors heard testimony from more than two dozen witnesses. She did not take the stand and the defense did not call any witnesses in the case.