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FINGERHUT SLAYING Charge of gun theft is dismissed



Published: Thu, January 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A city prosecutor believes the murder defendant fabricated the story that her gun was stolen.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Charges are dismissed against a man police say was wrongly accused of stealing the gun of a murder defendant.

Nicholas J. Graham, an assistant city prosecutor, filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the theft charge filed against Santiago Mason of Warren.

"Evidence gathered through the homicide investigation reveals that the complaining witness, Donna Roberts, fabricated the allegations," Graham's motion states.

Roberts, 57, of Fonderlac Street S.E., Howland, and Nathaniel E. Jackson, 29, of South Pearl Street, Youngstown, face capital murder charges. Police say Roberts and Jackson had spent several months planning to kill Roberts' husband, Robert Fingerhut.

Fingerhut was shot and killed Dec. 11 in his Fonderlac Drive home.

Police have said they believe Fingerhut was shot with a .38-caliber gun. The murder weapon has not been found.

Roberts filed a police report Nov. 27 saying that Mason had stolen her gun, a .38 caliber, when she was at a convenience store. She stated in the complaint that she knew Mason for several months because he would frequent the Greyhound Bus Station in Warren.

Fingerhut and Roberts managed the bus station in Warren and Youngstown.

What she said: Roberts stated in her police report that she was giving Mason a ride but stopped at a convenience store. She said that when she went into the store, Mason waited in the car. She said that after she dropped off Mason, she noticed her gun, some cash and telephone calling cards were missing.

Roberts told prosecutors when she filed her complaint that Mason admitted stealing the gun and told her he was "going to do something bad."

Mason had pleaded innocent to the charge, court officials said.

According to an affidavit filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court by the county prosecutor's office, Roberts and Jackson were having an affair and planned to kill Fingerhut so they could get his $325,000 life insurance policy.

Police found 145 handwritten letters from Roberts to Jackson in the trunk of her vehicle. They also found 143 letters from Jackson to Roberts in Roberts' bedroom, according to the affidavit.

According to documents, Jackson was released from Lorain Correctional Institution Dec. 9 after serving one year after being convicted in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of two counts of receiving stolen property.

Roberts and Jackson are indicted on charges of capital murder, one count each of aggravated burglary with firearm specifications and one count each of aggravated robbery with firearm specifications. Both could face the death penalty.

Roberts and Jackson have pleaded innocent. They are being held without bond in the county jail.




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