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WARREN Videotape won't be used in murder trial



Published: Fri, July 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The capital murder trial is scheduled to begin in November, officials said.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Trumbull County prosecutors have agreed not to use a defendant's videotaped statement during her upcoming capital murder trail.

During a hearing Thursday in the courtroom of Judge John Stuard of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, Chris Becker, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, entered into an agreement with defense attorneys John Juhasz and J. Gerald Ingram not to use Donna Roberts' Dec. 20 videotaped statement during her trial.

Judge Stuard noted on the journal entry that both sides agreed not to use the statement because Roberts' constitutional rights were violated during the videotaped interview. Court officials said that during the interview, Roberts said she didn't want to answer any additional questions, but detectives continued to quiz her.

If a suspect asks for the interview to stop, detectives are to cease questioning, court officials said.

"The case is not in jeopardy because we can't use this statement," Becker said.

According to an affidavit filed by the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office, Roberts, 57, of Fonderlac Street S.E., Howland, and Nathaniel E. Jackson, 29, of South Pearl Street, Youngstown, planned for several months to murder Roberts' husband, Robert S. Fingerhut, 57.

The charges

Roberts and Jackson have been 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.

Jackson's case is scheduled for trial in October, and Roberts' trial is set for November, court records show.

Trumbull County 911 records show that Roberts called the center around 12:25 a.m. Dec. 12 to say she found her husband dead. Police believe Fingerhut was shot Dec. 11.

Fingerhut was shot at least three times, including once in the back of the head, according to the affidavit.

Police found 143 letters from Jackson to Roberts in Roberts' bedroom, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states the letters show Roberts and Jackson & quot;were and had been lovers for over two years. These letters also established that they were plotting to murder Robert Fingerhut. & quot;

The affidavit notes that Fingerhut had a $325,000 life insurance policy and his wife was the beneficiary.

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

sinkovich@vindy.com




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