Judge urged to consider LaRosa’s crimes separately for sentencing

By Ed Runyan



Prosecutors in the Jacob LaRosa aggravated murder case have filed an additional brief asking Judge W. Wyatt McKay to view the four crimes LaRosa committed separately for sentencing purposes.

In criminal cases, judges can merge multiple criminal counts for the purposes of sentencing, which can result in a defendant serving sentences for multiple crimes at the same time rather than one after the other.

Merging multiple crimes for sentencing purposes can result in a lesser penalty than not merging offenses.

LaRosa, 18, of Niles, pleaded no contest in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to the March 31, 2015, aggravated murder, attempted rape, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary of his neighbor, Marie Belcastro, 94, of Cherry Street.

At a two-day sentencing hearing in April, witnesses testified about LaRosa, but Judge McKay still has to rule on what sentence to give.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys filed briefs a month ago, with prosecutors asking Judge McKay to sentence LaRosa to life in prison without parole. Defense attorneys asked the judge to give LaRosa a sentence that would allow him to have a chance at parole some day.

Prosecutors cited a 2000 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in another aggravated murder case that they say contained a very similar set of facts and resulted in a life-in-prison-without-parole sentence.

In both cases, a killer entered a home, beat a woman to death and stole from her. One difference is that LaRosa also attempted to rape his victim, the prosecutors noted.

The filing says there were “effectively three separate and distinct crime scenes in the Belcastro residence, the living room, the dining room and the bedroom.” LaRosa also had three different motives in each of the rooms – subduing his victim, stealing from her purse and committing a sex offense.

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