Gail Pappalardi collapsed in her lawyer's arms last night as she was told she'd been acquitted of murdering her rock-star husband. She was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, the least serious felony charge she faced. She is expected to be released today on $5000 bail.

The blonde widow of Felix Pappalardi, one of the top record producers in the Sixties, sobbed with relief when she heard the verdict. A six-man, six-woman jury bought her story that she shot her husband dead during a bizarre bedside firearms lesson with a loaded derringer.

Mrs. Pappalardi came close to being totally exonerated. Until a few minutes before the verdicts were handed down, there were four jurors holding out for acquittal on all counts.

The criminally negligent homicide verdict means Mrs. Pappalardi caused her husbands's death, failing to understand the deadly risk in the situation in which he died. She faces up to four years in prison, but may not be jailed at all.

The conviction will prevent her from inheriting any of her husband's $225,000 estate.

The jury filed into the the Manhattan Supreme Court room after eight hours of deliberation over a two-day period. Mrs. Pappalardi, 41, in a dark green silk blouse and black slacks, stood shaking, her hands clasped tightly in front of her as she awaited the verdicts.

She listened as the foreman of the jury, Darleen Jenkins, was asked, "How do you find on the forst count, murder in the second degree?" Mrs. Jenkins said, "Not Guilty."

Mrs Pappalardi fell into the arms of her attorney, Neal Comer, gasped, "Oh, God" and began to sob.

She was allowed to sit as the jury foreman gave not-guilty verdicts to alternative manslaughter charges-and the guilty verdict on criminally negligent homicide. Before she was led away she hugged Comer.

"It was a pretty good verdict," Comer said, and told The Post there will be an appeal against the criminally negligent homicide conviction on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

One of the jurors, Grace Walters, said, "We were very impressed with her. We did believe her story." She said what swung the jury in her favor was the dramatic moment during her testimony when she recoiled from picking up the gun with which she killed her husband, saying she could not touch it. "We felt there was no intent. She did not want him to die," Miss Walters said.

Juror William Waring, 50, of Manhattan, said, "We voted over and over again and came to that same conclusion. It was tough."

Said Richard Ozores, a 33 year old postman, "There were four holdouts for acquittal - for awhile things were really hot in there."

He said the prosecution did not prove intent. The murder indictment cited jealousy as a motive, but they did not believe Pappalardi was in fact making any plans to leave his wife.

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New York Post

Rocker's widow gets
4 yrs. in jail

Gail Collins on her way
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Blasting the lawyers who defended Gail Pappalardi and the jury that convicted her on a lesser charge in the slaying of her rock-star husband, an angry judge yesterday sentenced her to the maximum term of four years in jail.

Pappalardi, 43, sobbed as she was sentenced to 16 months to four years in jail for criminally negligent homicide in the April 17 slaying of her husband, Felix, 41, in the couple's elegant Waterside Plaza apartment.

Jurors cleared her of the more serious second-degree murder charge for which she would have faced a maximum of 25 years in jail. Pappalardi, who has been in jail 5 months, will be eligible for parole next September.

Prosecutors said Pappalardi shot her husband with a .38-caliber pistol after he returned from his girlfriend's apartment. Pappalardi said she shot her husband - a producer and founder of the rock group Mountain - accidentally while he was teaching her to use a gun.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Leff angrily charged that Pappalardi had never tried to help her husband after the shooting. "She called her attorney instead of calling for help," Leff said. "She was concerned with her own well- being."

Leff also blasted defense lawyers for using "shabby" tactics, including claims that investigators stole her jewelry and that the medical examiner's report was wrong.

Pappalardi wept as defense lawyer Neal Comer asked Leff to be lenient because she had "suffered enough" from the slaying and had been assaulted several times in jail. "She is not a cold-blooded killer," Comer said. "She has to live not only with the fact that Felix is dead, but that she is the instrumentality of his death."

But Leff turned a deaf ear, saying: "All the clemency and all the leniency was given to her by the jury."


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