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What now for Jamar Houser?

Published: Fri, May 25, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



Now that murder charges with death-penalty specifications have been dismissed against Jamar Houser after nearly 21/2 years in jail, what will happen to the 21-year-old?

Atty. Lynn Maro, who has represented Houser in the case for the last two years, said the legal future of her client is uncertain.

Houser has been housed in the Mahoning County jail for 28 months on murder charges in the killing of Angeline Fimognari, 80, in the parking lot of St. Dominic’s Church on the South Side.

Those charges could have landed him on death row but were dismissed Thursday after county Prosecutor Paul Gains announced a palm print left at the scene of the shooting implicates another man as the killer.

Maro said her client, right now, is just happy to no longer have the murder charges hanging over his head.

“For two and a half years we were confident that none of the evidence in this case pointed to [him],” she said. “He is obviously pleased. He and his family have maintained his innocence all along, and facing the death penalty for something you did not do is certainly scary.”

According to Gains, Houser cannot sue the county or seek compensation for the two years he has spent locked in the county jail.

Gains said prosecutors followed the evidence collected by police and witness statements placing Houser in the area at the time of the shooting, and a grand jury decided to hand up an indictment against Houser.

He added authorities followed all new evidence and promptly dismissed charges upon learning of the palm-print evidence.

“This department did what it was supposed to do,” he said. “There is no civil liability.”

Maro said, however, she is not quite sure what legal recourse her client may have. She said there are laws addressing wrongful convictions, but research will need to be conducted on avenues available to a person wrongfully accused and jailed for extended periods of time.

Houser had been in the county jail on a $3 million bond.

Houser has not made any public statements addressing his immediate plans, but he still must answer to felony charges of shooting into a habitation unrelated to the Fimognari murder. Those charges could land him in prison for up to eight years.

The case has taken many twists and turns over the last two years — some drawing in other members of the Houser family.

Houser’s parents were charged with threatening witnesses in the case in 2010, and his father, John Houser, 48, was charged with intimidation a second time in 2012.

John Houser is serving a year in prison for obstruction of justice related to one of the alleged acts of retaliation.

Gains is adamant that those charges against the elder Houser will stick.

He said John Houser, regardless of his claims about his son’s innocence, had no right to circumvent the law and threaten those who came forward as witnesses in the case. He said the legal process must be allowed to play out without intimidation and threats.


1WHATSSHAKIN(42 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

In Ohio there is compensation for wrongful imprisonment.


Ohio Man Awarded in Wrongful Imprisonment Case
August 12th, 2008
A man living in Pike County, Ohio was recently awarded in a case involving the murder of his friend.

The man’s conviction was reportedly overturned when he was awarded $600,000 in damages for wrongful imprisonment.

Innocent Man Admits to Murder
Kenneth Moore, 49, admitted to a jury in 1995 that he shot and killed his friend, Darrel Benner, 44, one night while they were drinking.

Since this time, Moore has spent nine years of a 15 years-to-life sentence behind bars for the murder.

Victim Receives Compensation
Moore’s case was recently overturned by an appeals court who found that the lawyers working for him did not inform him of favorable evidence at the time of the trial.

As a result, he was tried once again and found to be innocent of the murder that took his friend’s life.

Moore was awarded statutory damages of $44, 204 for each year he spent in jail along with $106, 764 in legal fees and $80,817 for lost wages.

(Source: The Columbus Dispatch)

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2One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago


The cases you site above were all people who did jail time AFTER being charged AND convicted.

Jamar Houser was only charged. His trial had not taken place and he was not convicted of anything. The 2 years he has spent in prison is the time it has taken to prepare this case for trial (by his lawyers as well as Gains' office). The wheels of justice do grind sloooooowly - don't they.

I don't see him ever getting a dime from this.

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3redeye1(5264 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

The way i look at it. In this case, he should pay the county because he's still alive now. If he had stayed on the streets he probably would be dead by now. So Jamar pay up!!!!! and say thank you!

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4AFgrad(11 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Obviously this kid is no angel but to be facing a possibility of life in prison or death for an act he didn't do is not right. Justice has been rightly served. If this kid doesn't learn from this experience that he's only one stupid act away form prison or death and continues his current behavior. Then he most certainly will get prison or death. But for an act he actually did committed.

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5walter_sobchak(2313 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

That is priceless!

If a defendant is tried and found not guilty by a judge or jury, do we compensate the defendant? Same situation. All the cases you cite are for wrongly convicted and imprisoned. In this case you would have to find police or prosecutorial misconduct. Anyway, since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I'm sure Houser is guilty of something.

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