Following a nearly three-week trial that included testimony from more than two dozen witnesses, a mistrial was declared in the case of Donatila O’Mahony, the Central Islip woman accused of the 2020 murder of a 69-year-old Lee Pedersen, a part-time resident of Aquebogue.
Jurors had already begun deliberations in the case when Judge Timothy Mazzei declared the mistrial on Oct. 18. According to Judge Mazzei, Juror No. 4 recognized someone in the parking lot of the court complex that turned out to be a relative of the defendant.
The juror promptly reported the interaction to the judge and said he felt he could no longer be impartial in the case.
Ms. O’Mahony is also charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and second-degree attempted grand larceny after prosecutors allege she forged a copy of Mr. Pedersen’s will in the weeks following his death.
Throughout the trial, jurors heard from police detectives, handwriting analysts and friends of both Mr. Pedersen and Ms. O’Mahony.
Prosecutors alleged that Ms. O’Mahony knew she was named as a beneficiary in Mr. Pedersen’s will and was set to inherit his Lynbrook home worth more than $400,000.
“This defendant decided to speed up the process,” assistant district attorney Frank Schroeder said during his opening argument, adding that Ms. O’Mahony became “fiendish” over locating Mr. Pedersen’s will in the weeks following his death.
Defense attorney Ira Weissman had conceded that while his client “took a wrong turn” and forged the will, prosecutors lacked proof that she killed Mr. Pedersen.
Juror No. 4 was the second juror to be dismissed in as many days. A day earlier, Juror No. 12 was sent home after suffering an apparent anxiety attack while listening to closing arguments. Both sides agreed to implement an alternate juror, but Ms. O’Mahony and her defense counsel did not consent to replacing the second juror.
Judge Mazzei said declaring a mistrial is “unfortunate,” though not rare and the case is expected to be retried in the spring. Ms. O’Mahony will continue to be remanded to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead without bail, according to officials.