By Joe Gorman
A former murder suspect, who had his charges dismissed but later was arrested for intimidating a witness, and his father, who pleaded guilty to witness intimidation, were arraigned in municipal court Friday in a fight they had inside a moving car.
John Houser, 50, and Jamar Houser, 23, both of Volney Road, each pleaded not guilty at their arraignments before Judge Robert Milich to misdemeanor charges of domestic violence. They pleaded via video hookup from the Mahoning County jail.
Judge Milich set Jamar Houser’s bond at $5,000 and John Houser’s bond at $10,000. They also are ordered to stay away from each other.
A report by Mahoning County deputy sheriffs who were working security Thursday at the Oakhill Renaissance Center states the pair were in a car on Oak Hill Avenue on Thursday morning when Jamar Houser jumped out while the car was still moving. When the car stopped, John Houser got out of the driver’s seat, and Jamar Houser took an aggressive stance toward him, reports said.
John Houser had a bloody nose, and blood was coming from his mouth, reports said. Witnesses in the car said John Houser was arguing with his son. When Jamar Houser tried to stop it, John Houser swung into the back seat but missed, and instead hit a 10-year-old child, reports said.
City Prosecutor Dana Lantz told Judge Milich although John Houser started the incident, Jamar Houser participated in a physical confrontation with his father. “It does look like he continued it,” Lantz said.
Jamar 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 and could have faced the death penalty if convicted. However, in May 2012, those charges were dropped after a palm print found at the crime scene was matched to another person, who had been shot and killed after Fimognari’s murder.
In July, he was arrested and accused of threatening a witness in that case against him. He was indicted on a charge of retaliation, but that charge was dismissed.
During his son’s murder case, John Houser was charged with obstruction of justice for statements he made to a witness and originally was sentenced to probation. However, he ended up being sentenced to 10 months in prison after he was found to have violated his probation by driving a car with a suspended license. He also tested positive for marijuana and cocaine and did not report to a required drug-treatment program.
Lantz said John Houser has had prior charges of resisting arrest and burglary and additional domestic-violence charges that could upgrade to a felony the misdemeanor he now is charged with. Common pleas court records show he pleaded guilty to a felony domestic-violence charge in 2011 and was then sentenced to a year in prison in May 2012 for violating that probation.
That probation violation ran concurrent with another charge the elder Houser picked up in February 2012 for threatening a witness in the murder case. He pleaded guilty to a charge of intimidation and was sentenced to a year in prison.
During his arraignment, John Houser asked for a trial as soon as possible. Judge Milich said the time of his trial is up to the assignment office.
Jamar Houser asked for leniency so he could he see his child, who is 2 weeks old.
“I look for justice, not leniency,” Judge Milich answered.