NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – A judge has granted public access to legal documents in a Niles murder trial, denying the defense team’s motion to suppress the information.
Judge Sandra Stabile Harwood denied the motion Thursday morning. In the case, prosecutors have accused 15-year-old Jacob Larosa with beating Marie Belcastro, 94, to death on March 31.
The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office has asked that Larosa be tried as an adult.
According to a press release issued by the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office soon after Belcastro’s death, police determined that the Niles grandmother died by homicide after arriving at her house. Assistant prosecutors then determined that there was probable cause to charge Jacob Larosa, 15, with aggravated murder, the release stated.
WKBN 27 First News has obtained a copy of the criminal complaint filed by police, which would have been sealed if Harwood approved the defense’s motion.
Warning: The complaint is very graphic. It can be read here.
The complaint goes into great detail on the evidence police collected, such as Larosa’s bloody clothes, stolen bottles of liquor and a surveillance video that shows the teen near the crime scene with suspected alcohol that was stolen from Belcastro’s basement. Larosa’s lawyer says it could taint the jury pool.
“I think that is always a concern in any case. Not just our case today, but every criminal case there is,” defense attorney Robert Koker said.
The second big decision on Thursday was from Larosa himself. He was present in the courtroom for his probable cause hearing.
The judge asked him if he understood the charges of murder, robbery, burglary and attempted rape against him. Larosa said yes and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. That sets up an amenability hearing.
“The factors the judge is going to have to look at to determine whether the juvenile should be bound over as an adult. The state will put on evidence, we will put on evidence and the judge will make a decision at that point,” Koker said.
That hearing is scheduled for July 8 through 10. It is not open to the public because of the sensitive information that will be discussed during those hearings.
“We won at that first part of the proceeding and we are certainly going to be prepared and we certainly believe that the evidence and testimony will show he is not amenable to the juvenile justice system and that he should be bound over as an adult,” Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker said.