MAHONING COUNTY Lawyer: Dismiss charges
The 16-year-old still faces charges of drug possession and failure to comply.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Unable to produce evidence linking him to a pair of brutal January robberies, the Mahoning County Prosecutor's Office is dropping charges against a 16-year-old Willis Avenue boy.
Lamont Belcher was charged with attempted aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated burglary and felonious assault, three counts of kidnapping and aggravated robbery and one count of receiving stolen property, failure to comply with a police order and possession of cocaine.
The prosecutor's office filed a motion Wednesday in common pleas court asking that all but the cocaine and failure to comply charges be dismissed. Belcher's attorney, Ted Macejko Jr., has filed a motion asking that those charges be dismissed.
"Other than placing him in the car with the other two [suspects] three hours after the crimes, we've got nothing," said Timothy Franken, assistant prosecutor. "We can't tie him in."
Not surprised: Macejko said he's not surprised at the turn of events.
"I knew from the beginning that this young man didn't have anything to do with this," he said.
Belcher and two 16-year-old East Indianola Avenue boys, James Goins and Chad Barnette, were accused of breaking into two homes and beating and robbing their occupants early this year.
Goins and Barnette face the same charges as Belcher, except for failure to comply with police.
Witnesses, including the victims, reported seeing only two boys commit the crimes, Franken said. Authorities think they were Goins and Barnette.
Belcher was charged, police say, because he was caught driving a car stolen from one of the victims, with Goins and Barnette riding with him. Police said he fled when they tried to pull him over, which resulted in charge of failure to comply.
Print didn't match: Authorities thought a footprint found at one of the crime scenes would match Belcher's shoe, but it did not. Franken said the charges can be refiled if evidence turns up linking him to the raids.
All three are being held in the county jail awaiting trial as adults.
Macejko had asked two weeks ago that Belcher's bond be reduced from $100,000 to an amount his family can afford so he can be released, but Judge R. Scott Krichbaum refused.
If Judge Krichbaum approves the prosecutors' request to dismiss the 12 counts, Macejko said he will ask again for a lower bond. If the judge refuses to dismiss the remaining charges of cocaine possession and failure to comply, Macejko will ask that they be moved back to juvenile court.