"I didn't see anything" in Giordano's hands, Segich said. "It happened too fast. . . . I heard what sounded like a clap, a gunshot, and I fell."
Bleeding from the face, Segich said, he got up, shielded himself with a chair and ran out of Pirollo's basement. He found out later that he'd been shot under the left nostril, with the bullet exiting under his left ear.
Police who arrived on the scene Dec. 18 found Pirollo, 52, lying face down in a pool of blood on a couch. Giordano, 26, of Norwood, has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Pirollo and attempted murder in the wounding of Segich, 35.
Testimony in the jury trial of Giordano opened yesterday in Delaware County Court with prosecution witnesses who said that Giordano, a construction worker, owed several bookies, including Pirollo's son, James "Jay" Jr., more than $10,000 from sports betting.
If the jury convicts Giordano of first-degree murder, he could receive the death penalty. The trial will continue today before Judge Charles C. Keeler.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel J. McDevitt told the jury in his opening statement that Giordano shot the elder Pirollo and Segich and made off with several thousand dollars from Pirollo's desk to cover his losses.
"(Giordano) found himself in a predicament on Dec. 18, 1993," McDevitt said. "His predicament was he owed over $10,000 as a result of sports betting. . . . His solution that day was to shoot his way out of it."
Giordano's attorney, Eugene P. Tinari, said it did not make sense that Giordano would shoot Pirollo when he owed Pirollo's son money.
"(Giordano) wasn't there to rob Mr. Pirollo," Tinari said. "He was there
because there are other reasons - reasons that will be brought forth from the commonwealth witnesses."
Tinari said that he would not present an alibi defense. But he asked the jury to consider that Giordano believed that "the use of force was necessary to protect himself from serious bodily injury or the threat of death."
Jay Pirollo, a sports bookie who also worked for his father's operation, testified that Giordano owed him about $7,000. After Giordano failed twice to make a $2,500 payment the week before the shooting, he was to drop the money off to the elder Pirollo on Dec. 18, Jay Pirollo said.
Segich said that he worked for Pirollo Sr.'s bookmaking operation on Saturday mornings. Giordano arrived at Pirollo's house when Segich did on Dec. 18 and introduced himself as Chuck, Segich said. Pirollo seemed to be expecting him, he said.
Giordano's father, Michael, testified for the prosecution that he owned a 9mm Taurus handgun, which police later confiscated. Michael Giordano said that his son stopped at his house, in Secane, the morning of the shooting.
A friend of the elder Pirollo's, Mary Parenti, testified that she saw Pirollo put a thick wad of money in his desk in the basement the morning of the shooting. Police who searched Pirollo's house afterward testified that there was no money in the basement.