LAROSA TRIAL | Jacob LaRosa pleads no contest, sentenced in April
WARREN — Jacob LaRosa will be sentenced April 5 and 6 after a special mitigation hearing after pleading no contest to all charges. Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court found him guilty
He could get up to life in prison without parole but could could get other life sentences.
LaRosa, 18, of Lafayette Avenue in Niles pleaded no contest to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and attempted rape in the March 31, 2015, killing of Marie Belcastro 94, in her home on Cherry Street in Niles.
LaRosa did not have to say much except "no contest" during the hearing. But Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, gave some information about the murder to Judge McKay, saying LaRosa used a Mag flashlight to beat Belcastro to death.
LaRosa also told other youths with him in juvenile detention that he had attempted to rape Belcastro and other details.
It’s not known what the reason is for LaRosa agreeing to take a plea instead of going to trial.
n jury selection Monday, the first five potential interviewed individually indicated that they had already made up their minds about LaRosa being guilty and had to be excused from serving on the jury.
Nonetheless, 23 potential jurors were prepared to complete jury selection today when word went out that LaRosa might enter a no contest plea instead of continuing with the trial.
WARREN — The jury selection expected to begin at 9 a.m. today in the Jacob LaRosa aggravated murder trial has been put on hold while prosecutors and defense attorneys meet with Judge W. Wyatt McKay regarding a possible plea in the case.
WARREN — The 23 remaining potential jurors will be in the courtroom at 9 a.m. today in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for the final selection of 12 jurors and two alternates to hear the aggravated murder case of Jacob LaRosa, 18, accused of killing his elderly neighbor.
The final selection process involves asking questions of the final potential jurors as a group and giving the attorneys for LaRosa and prosecutors a chance to eliminate jurors with what are called "pre-emptory challenges," meaning the attorneys don't have to give any reason for eliminating a certain number of jurors.
When that is complete, they will travel to Niles to look at the main locations involved in the case: the home on Cherry Street where Marie Belcastro, 94, was killed by being struck in the head with a weapon. The next street over is where LaRosa, then 15, was found upstairs in his house on Lafayette Street wearing only socks and underwear with blood on his hands.
His family called police to their home that day, March 31, 2015, thinking that LaRosa had been assaulted. A short time later, police were called after Belcastro's daughter found her mother's body in her home.
After viewing those locations, the jurors will return to the courthouse for opening statements from the attorneys, followed by the start of testimony.
LaRosa, 18, is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and attempted rape. He could get life in prison without the chance for parole if convicted. His case was transferred from juvenile court to adult court by a juvenile court judge.