December 1

This Day in History

Crime

Dec 1, 2004:

Defense presents its case in Hamptons murder trial

On this day in 2004, the defense for Daniel Pelosi, an electrician on trial for the killing of his girlfriend’s estranged husband, R. Theodore “Ted” Ammon, a wealthy investment banker, begins presenting its case in a Riverhead, New York, courtroom. Less than two weeks later, a jury found Pelosi guilty of Ammon’s murder.

On October 22, 2001, the 52-year-old Ammon, whose fortune was worth a reported $80 million, was found bludgeoned to death at his mansion in tony East Hampton, New York. Police determined that robbery did not appear to be a motive for the slaying. At the time, Ammon was in the midst of a bitter divorce from his second wife, Generosa, with whom he had two children. Three months after Ammon’s murder, Generosa, who inherited her late husband’s estate because their divorce was not yet finalized, wed Pelosi. The blonde socialite and the then-married, high-school dropout from Long Island became romantically involved in 2000 after she hired him to work on a Manhattan townhouse she was renovating.

Pelosi went on lavish spending sprees with his new wife’s money, and the marriage soured. In August 2003, Generosa, then 46, died from breast cancer. In her will, she left the bulk of her wealth to her children, not Pelosi. In March 2004, Pelosi was arrested and charged with Ted Ammon’s murder. When the high-profile case went to trial in the fall of that year, amidst great media interest, prosecutors contended that the electrician, who had a history of financial problems, substance abuse and prior arrests, had slain Ammon to get access to his millions. The prosecution called several witnesses who testified Pelosi had admitted to them that he killed the Wall Street mogul. Additionally, prosecutors pointed to the fact that Pelosi had overseen the installation of a security camera system in Ted Ammon’s Hamptons home--the same system police believed was disabled by the financier’s killer.

On December 1, Pelosi’s defense began its case, arguing that Ammon was bi-sexual and could have been slain by someone he met on a gay beach near his home. Pelosi, who maintained he had nothing to do with Ammon’s murder and said he was buying beer with a friend on the night of the crime, later testified it was Generosa who wanted her husband dead. The electrician said Generosa had asked if he knew anyone who would kill Ammon—or if Pelosi would do it himself. There was no physical evidence directly linking Pelosi to the crime, and he accused the witnesses who testified against him in court were lying.

On December 13, 2004, after deliberating for two-and-a-half days, a jury convicted Pelosi of second-degree murder. In January 2005, the 41-year-old was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Later that year, “Murder in the Hamptons,” a made-for-television movie about the case, was released.

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