Central Islip woman found guilty of murdering Aquebogue man

A Suffolk County jury on Tuesday found a Central Islip woman guilty of murdering an Aquebogue man in 2020 and forging his will in an attempt to inherit his estate.

Donatila O’Mahony, 42, was convicted of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and second-degree attempted grand larceny by the jury of seven women and five men.

“The motive for this murder was greed, pure and simple,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said in a statement after the verdict was handed down. “Hopefully the victim’s loved ones will now have a small measure of justice knowing his killer will be held responsible for her actions.” 

The victim, 69-year-old Lee Pedersen, was found dead in his Aquebogue home on March 8, 2020, with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Detectives recovered surveillance footage, cellphone records and testimony during a nine-month investigation into his death that led to Ms. O’Mahony’s arrest that December. 

“It’s just such a relief,” Lorraine Roth, a neighbor of Mr. Pedersen’s from Lynbrook, said following Tuesday’s verdict. “Every night I’d pray and talk to Lee that the verdict would be just. We found out things [about Lee] that we never knew, but nobody deserves that kind of treatment … He was a very good person,” Ms. Roth said.

During the trial, prosecutors relied on the testimony of George Woodworth, a 76-year-old New Jersey man who admitted to purchasing two handguns for the defendant to use in the shooting and letting her borrow his car on the night of the murder.

Mr. Woodworth later disposed of clothing and the handgun used in the shooting in various New Jersey dumpsters, but kept a plastic bag of unused ammunition in a bedroom closet. Detectives recovered the bag, which was swabbed by forensic scientists at the Suffolk County Crime Lab and revealed the presence of both Ms. O’Mahony’s and Mr. Pedersen’s DNA.

In the weeks following his death, Ms. O’Mahony set out to forge Mr. Pedersen’s will in an attempt to obtain his Pine Avenue home in Aquebogue.

Prosecutors maintained that Ms. O’Mahony knew she was listed as a beneficiary in his real last will and testament, and was set to inherit another residence Mr. Pedersen owned in Lynbrook. 

Assistant district attorney Frank Schroeder told jurors in an opening statement that Ms. O’Mahony decided to “speed up” the process.

“She couldn’t wait for her inheritance,” Mr. Schroeder said, characterizing the crime as one of “horrific greed.”

Unaware that police already had a copy of Mr. Pedersen’s will, which listed another close family friend as the executor who would inherit the Aquebogue home, Ms. O’Mahony later produced her own version of the document that instead named her executor and put both the Lynbrook and Aquebogue residences in her name. 

During the trial, defense attorney Ira Weissman conceded that although the defendant filed a fraudulent will, that doesn’t make her guilty of murder.

Leaving the courtroom Tuesday, Mr. Weissman said it isn’t the outcome he hoped for. “We’re disappointed in the verdict,” he said. “We’ll figure out what our next step is.”

This was the second time Ms. O’Mahony was tried before Judge Timothy Mazzei. The first trial, held in October, ended abruptly in a mistrial after a juror recognized a relative of the defendant’s outside the courthouse.

Ms. O’Mahony faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison and is due back in court for sentencing on Feb. 28, according to the DA’s office.