YOUNGSTOWN — The 18-year-old accused of murdering an 80-year-old woman in a church parking lot had been in the Mahoning County jail on $500,000 bond 90 days before the killing.
Jamar Houser of Volney Road had been indicted in October on felony charges of firing a gun into a home, aggravated menacing and assault. He asked Judge Lou D’Apolito, Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, to reduce the $500,000 bond Nov. 10. The bond was reduced to $20,000.
Judge D’Apolito said the Houser case is an ongoing matter, and he would not be able to comment on any aspect of the case, including the reduced bond.
Authorities believe Houser gunned down Angeline Fimognari after she left morning services at St. Dominic Church, 77 E. Lucius Ave., on Jan. 23. Houser is believed to have taken the woman’s purse before running from the church parking lot.
Houser appeared Monday before Judge Robert Milich in Youngstown Municipal Court for arraignment on charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.
Appearing via video wearing a county-issued orange jumpsuit, he entered no plea to the charges but told the court he had no income and is supported by his parents and would therefore need a court-appointed attorney. He will be provided an attorney.
Houser also asked the judge to set “a reasonable bond.”
After prosecutors read the 18-year-old’s arrest record, the judge said he saw $3 million as a reasonable bond for the accused killer. Prosecutors told the court Houser’s record includes arrests for receiving stolen property and aggravated robbery as a juvenile, and the charges pending before Judge D’Apolito.
Al Milano, a nephew of Fimognari, attended the arraignment and is still bewildered as to how someone could gun down an unarmed elderly woman in the parking lot of church. He described Fimognari as a gentle woman who did little more than attend church and look after children in her family.
“I just can’t believe a person could do something like that...” Milano told a group gathered outside the courtroom. “I am just bewildered by it. We are still shocked.”
A woman claiming to be a relative to Houser tried to attend the proceedings but was prevented from entering the courtroom because someone in the courtroom at the time of the arraignment had a restraining order against her. The woman declared that she wanted to see Houser be arraigned but was ultimately escorted from the building by security.
Police had launched a massive manhunt for the person responsible for Fimognari’s killing since Jan. 23 when she was discovered shot in the parking lot. CrimeStoppers and the City of Youngstown joined forces to offer a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Police are not saying exactly what information lead to the arrest of Houser.
Jaa’Bone Kennedy, 58, of Indianola Avenue, said he has had a first-hand run-in with Houser and his associates leading to the earlier assault charge against Houser. A trial is scheduled Feb. 18 in Youngstown Municipal Court in the assault case.
According to Kennedy, who lives near Houser, he was walking near Houser’s home in August 2009 when words were exchanged, and Houser threatened to do him bodily harm.
“[Houser] ran on the side of the house as I was walking, and I thought he was going to get a weapon. But he ran up on me and started swinging, so I defended myself,” the man said.
Kennedy said he pinned Houser to the ground but was then attacked and hit by other people with Houser. He said the fight spilled over into his home before police arrived.