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YOUNGSTOWN Motion seeks car's release



Published: Wed, May 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The car has two TV sets mounted in the headrests.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- LaTawon Townsend can't take his 1991 Acura sedan out for a cruise any time soon, but his lawyer wants the car to be released from police custody just the same.

Townsend, 20, of South Garland Avenue, is being held in the Mahoning County Jail with bond set at $1 million. He is charged with aggravated murder in the January shooting death of 24-year-old Angela M. Loibl.

The car is one of two that authorities say Townsend drove to the T-N-T Bar on Steel Street, on the city's West Side, the night of the shooting. Police confiscated it some three months ago and have kept it in an impound yard.

Atty. Dennis DiMartino, who represents Townsend, filed a motion asking Judge James C. Evans to order police to release the car.

For one reason, it's not the car Townsend allegedly drove away in after the shooting, so it isn't needed as evidence, DiMartino said in court documents.

For another, the vehicle has been promised to DiMartino as collateral for payment of his legal fees. It must be released from impound so Townsend can sell it.

Other details

DiMartino said in court documents that if prosecutors want jurors to see the car, they can take photographs and substitute them for the real thing at trial.

A hearing on the matter will be Thursday.

Assistant Prosecutor Jay Macejko said he's not sure what position his office will take.

DiMartino's motion said the car has a distinctive appearance, with low-profile tires, oversize chrome rims and a deluxe multimedia sound system.

The features include a pair of small television sets mounted in the headrests, each facing the back seat, Macejko said.

"It's decked out pretty well, but I don't think I've ever seen a car with TVs in it like that before," Macejko said.

Townsend drove the car to the bar with Jose Rivera earlier on the night of the shooting, Macejko said. They were thrown out of the bar after getting into a fight, and returned later in another car, a 1985 Oldsmobile, also owned by Townsend.

That's when police say Townsend and Rivera went back inside and opened fire on patrons. Witnesses say Loibl was hiding in the kitchen when Townsend shot her in the head.

Rivera, 23, of Grandview Avenue, also is charged with aggravated murder.

bjackson@vindy.com




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