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Houser says his life will never be the same



Published: Thu, May 31, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

photo

Houser

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR

jgoodwin@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

After spending more than two years in the Mahoning County jail on a capital- murder charge, Jamar Houser said the publicity centered on the now-dismissed case has ruined his life and family name.

Houser had been charged with the Jan. 23, 2010, murder of Angeline Fimognari, 80, of Sheridan Road, in the parking lot of St. Dominic Church on the South Side. Fimognari was shot in the head. Her purse was missing, leading police to believe she was a victim of robbery.

Last week, prosecutors announced a palm print left at the scene indicates that another man committed the crime. That man was murdered in 2011.

Houser had been held in the Mahoning County jail since a few days after the murder.

The 21-year-old freed man walked into his attorneys’ office in Boardman on Wednesday wearing a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and a very large smile. He was accompanied by his mother, Frances Cianciola, who attended each court hearing during the last two years and has always said her son is not the person who killed Fimognari.

Behind the smiles and excitement over being free, however, is the fear that his life, and the lives of those closest to him, have been forever changed.

“My life will never be the same again. Everywhere I go I see people pointing or pointing and saying stuff, so they have messed that up. It will never be the same,” he said. “They messed up my family name.”

Houser said he will never be able to get back the time he spent in the county jail or the stress related to attending court hearings knowing his life was on the line, but he wants the public to understand that he is completely innocent.

“I just want everyone to know that I didn’t do this and that I am innocent. I was and I am still innocent,” he said. “They need to stop holding people just on hearsay and start using actual physical evidence. ... I thought about that a lot while I was in there [county jail].”

Houser said he was offered a plea deal while sitting in the jail but said he could not accept a deal for something he did not do.

“For me this was all or nothing. I felt like I was fighting or my life,” he said.

As for county prosecutors and the police officers investigating the Fimognari murder, Houser says he is entitled to some form of verbal admission that they were wrong.

“I deserve an apology for this because they took me through a lot of emotional stress and everything,” he said. “It is really crazy because it was just a bunch of mental and emotional stuff.”

The apology may not be the only thing Houser is seeking. He said he seriously is considering some type of legal action against the county but has not explored exactly what his options are.

The defense attorneys handling the criminal case, John Juhasz and Lynn Maro, are not likely to handle any civil action against anyone involved in the case, but Houser said he has spoken to other attorneys.

Before any more court appearances or further legal filings, Houser said he just wants to spend some time trying to get his life back on track. He said he plans to attend classes to obtain his GED and go into the heating and cooling business.

“It feels really good to be back home,” he said. “I am about to go back to school and try to get a job and just get everything back on track.”

Houser said he may consider relocating once he has his affairs in order.

Juhasz said prosecutors knew early in the investigation that the palm print on Fimognari’s car did not belong to his client, but Houser was held on the hearsay testimony of an unnamed man who was considered a suspect early in the investigation. He said the general belief always was that Houser was innocent of the crime, but he was still concerned about the prospect of putting the case before a jury.

“We thought the evidence in this case was pretty pitifully thin, but you cannot overlook the fact that an innocent 80-year-old lady was shot in a church parking lot after attending Mass. That is going to tick anybody off,” he said.

Houser did say he hopes the Fimognari family finds closure and that police can wrap up the case in her death.

Maro called the case against Houser a textbook example for the abolition of the death penalty iwn Ohio.

“They had nothing to connect him to this crime. None of the physical evidence. None of the scientific evidence. Every step of the way, everything they got kept ruling him out, but they kept pursuing it,” she said. “They were willing to execute someone on circumstantial evidence. ... I think the death penalty should require something more than a circumstantial case.”


Comments

1redheadgrandma(13 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I hope this young man does get his GED and lives a good life from now on. He deserves to have an apology. I wonder how many people take plea deals (which he didn't) for crimes they didn't commit. I hope he and his mother can move and start over in a new town and that he can start his own business and become successful. Anything is possible.

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2Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

We'll see if he becomes a productive member of society or just another wanna be gangsta. He still has a open case about discharging a gun.

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3FifthAve(169 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

If the authorities knew early about this palm print, why did it take so long to release this innocent guy?

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4HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

A crime of that nature causes law enforcement to grab whatever black guy they can find to pin it on. They always want to "show" the community how impressive they are and how great their crime fighting is. Forget evidence, that's for the meek. That's why so many blacks are on death row who are eventually found innocent. Fifthavenue has a valid point. They had the hand print days after the killing and held this guy for 2 years???

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5Buci01(12 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

For those commenting in the negative against this man, can you look in the
Mirror and say to yourself the same things that you say against him. If I was a person that had a business I would hire this man and assist him in turning his life back to a Complety positive situation, but unfortunate I am not a Business OWNER. I just want to wish him the best and all the success possible. May God Bless him and his Mother.

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6DwightK(1263 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

It's well past time for a new prosecutor.

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7DontBanThisDrone(469 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Time for the lawsuit.

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8Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

hayden

Quit playing the race game. It is getting rather old, and it just don't work anymore. There are innocent white,purple,pink,yellow,orange,etc people on death row to. smh

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9Crimson1012(66 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I hope he gets a chance to start over in a new town... I will chip in for the bus fare if he can get started on his new life of innocence in the next week or so...

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10DontBanThisDrone(469 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Ianacek wrote: "Public apology & financial compensation are due ."

And both are on the way. The most difficult thing he (and his family) will have to deal with here in the immediate future, is trying to decipher all the numbers being thrown at them by what is most assuredly the countless number of lawyers who have already lined up, just licking their chops.

lol @ Crimson

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