Expert regarding drugs and alcohol to testify at Jacob Larosa hearing

By Ed Runyan


Attorneys for Jacob Larosa of Niles, who was 15 when he was accused of brutally murdering his elderly neighbor, will try to employ two expert witnesses at a Dec. 28 hearing in an effort to have evidence suppressed from his trial.

Attorneys from the Ohio Public Defender’s Office recently got permission from Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to employ Robert J. Belloto Jr., a forensic toxicologist, at a cost of up to $5,000.

A forensic toxicologist is an expert in testing bodily fluids and tissues in search of substances such as alcohol, drugs or poisons.

One reason for employing Belloto is to provide testimony regarding Larosa’s intoxication and whether it rendered him unable to make a knowing and intelligent decision about whether to speak to police the day of Marie Belcastro’s killing.

Belcastro, 94, was found murdered in her Cherry Street home March 31, 2015.

Court documents say Larosa’s family called 911 that afternoon seeking medical help for Larosa, who police and ambulance workers found vomiting at his home on Lafayette Avenue. He also had blood on his hands and underwear and was wearing no pants. At about that time, police also learned that something was wrong at Belcastro’s house. Police went there to find Belcastro murdered.

Medical personnel determined that Larosa had no injuries, despite the blood.

In addition to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, Larosa is also charged with attempted rape.

Police said Larosa admitted he had been in Belcastro’s house that day but only to get $10 and then later said he went there to get change for a candy bar.

Authorities have said DNA from a liquor bottle links Larosa to the killing and that Larosa took two liquor bottles from Belcastro’s house that day.

On Friday, Larosa’s attorneys also filed a request with the court asking Judge McKay to call Thomas Gazley of the Northeast Ohio Forensic Psychiatric Center of Northeast Ohio in Austintown to testify at the suppression hearing. Gazley evaluated Larosa, now 18, earlier in the case regarding Larosa’s competency to stand trial and other issues.

The motion says defense attorneys believe Gazley would be “in a position to identify aspects of [Larosa’s] youth and intellectual ability regarding issues to be considered at the suppression hearing.”

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