By PETER H. MILLIKEN
John Houser Sr. and Frances Cianciola of Volney Road, parents of murder suspect Jamar Houser, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge of obstructing justice in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
The elder Houser, 46, and Cianciola, 42, initially were charged with intimidation for reportedly threatening to kill a witness in their son’s case.
Jamar Houser, 19, of Volney Road, is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery with death-penalty specifications in the fatal shooting of Angeline Fimognari, 80, of Sheridan Road. The younger Houser, who also was charged with being a felon with a gun, remains jailed under $3.1 million bond.
Fimognari was shot to death in the parking lot of St. Dominic Church on the city’s South Side after she left Mass there Jan. 23.
Intimidation is a third-degree felony, for which the available prison-sentence range is one to five years. Obstructing justice is a fifth-degree felony, which has a prison sentence range from six to 12 months.
Rebecca L. Doherty, an assistant county prosecutor, said in the plea agreements of the elder Houser and Cianciola that she is recommending probation for them, however.
Doherty said she made the deal because she believes obstructing justice more accurately reflects what the elder Houser and Cianciola did, but she declined to discuss details of the case.
Doherty said she recommended probation because she believes having Houser’s parents on probation gives Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of common pleas court more control over them than giving them a short prison term that would end before their son’s case is resolved.
“My goal is to keep them from either interfering or having anything to do with this ongoing case,” Doherty said, referring to Jamar Houser’s case.
Although the elder Houser has a prior criminal record, Cianciola does not, Doherty noted.
Judge D’Apolito will sentence the elder Houser and Cianciola at 11:30 a.m. May 21. He ordered them to have no contact with anyone connected with their son’s case, which also is assigned to his court.
Judge D’Apolito released the elder Houser on his own recognizance pending sentencing.
Houser previously had been jailed under a $250,000 bond. Cianciola remains free on $100,000 bond.