LAROSA TRIAL | No testimony Tuesday as jurors still being chosen


WARREN — Testimony won't begin as early Tuesday as expected in the Jacob LaRosa aggravated murder trial.

The process of finding 12 jurors who could be fair and impartial took longer than expected and wasn't completed by the end of the work day Monday. It will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday. So far, the number of potential jurors has been reduced from about 40 to 23.

When jury selection is finished Tuesday, jurors will be taken to the home on Cherry Street in Niles where Marie Belcastro, 94, died of head trauma on March 31, 2015. Then jurors will return to the courthouse for opening statements from prosecutors and attorneys for LaRosa, 18. Testimony begins after that.

LaRosa, of Lafayette Avenue in Niles, is on trial on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and attempted rape in Belcastro's death.

Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, suggested to potential jurors that the trial could now take more than a week, possibly into Tuesday, to complete.

Five of the seven potential jurors who were questioned individually to hear testimony in the trial said they knew something about the case and were dismissed "for cause," meaning they had obvious reasons they could not serve on the jury.

The questioning of the first seven potential jurors familiar with the case suggested the information some of them had learned through the news media had made them upset or angry.

"I remember a child trying to rob an old lady and rape her. It was hurtful," one female potential juror said. She was among those dismissed.

Regarding two potential jurors, the dismissals were more related to the juror rather than to what they knew about the case.

One was dismissed because she had served prison time. Another said the attempted rape charge might make it hard for her to serve because she was a rape victim many years ago.

Jury selection continues in the case in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay.

1:13 p.m.

WARREN — Jury selection has just begun in the Jacob LaRosa aggravated murder trial before Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

The process of selecting a jury was slowed a few hours by prospective jurors needing to be given introductory information shortly after they arrived at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m.

About 40 potential jurors are now in the courtroom, and Judge McKay gave introductory remarks to them about the crime. He asked how many knew something about the case from news accounts. About two-thirds said they did.

LaRosa, 18, of Lafayette Avenue in Niles, is also in the courtroom, this time in civilian clothing instead of the orange clothing of county jail inmates.

LaRosa is charged with the aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and attempted rape of his neighbor, Marie Belcastro, 94, in her Cherry Street home in Niles on March 31, 2015.

If convicted, LaRosa could get life in prison without the possibility of parole.

11:10

WARREN — Jury selection has just begun in the Jacob LaRosa aggravated murder trial before Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

The process of selecting a jury was slowed by a few hours by prospective jurors needing to be given introductory information shortly after they arrived at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m.

About 40 potential jurors are now in the courtroom, and Judge McKay gave introductory remarks to them about the crime. He asked how many knew something about the case from news accounts. About two-thirds said they did.

LaRosa, 18, of Lafayette Avenue in Niles, is also in the courtroom, this time in civilian clothing instead of the orange clothing of county jail inmates.

LaRosa is charged with the aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and attempted rape of his neighbor, Marie Belcastro, 94, in her Cherry Street home in Niles on March 31, 2015.

If convicted, LaRosa could get life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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