Prosecutors seek life without parole in LaRosa case
By Justin Wier
Trumbull County prosecutors believe life without parole is the only appropriate sentence for a man who murdered his elderly neighbor as a 15-year-old.
“The offenses that [Jacob LaRosa] committed are straight out of a slasher film,” prosecutors wrote in a memorandum filed Friday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
LaRosa, 18, of Niles, pleaded no contest in February to charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and attempted rape for the March 31, 2015, murder of the 94-year-old Marie Belcastro.
The killing occurred hours after LaRosa had been released from the Trumbull County Juvenile Justice Center.
Prosecutors said LaRosa has shown “zero remorse” for the crime and bragged to other incarcerated juveniles about killing Belcastro.
“These are the words and actions of an individual who is irreparably corrupt and unworthy of a second chance,” the memorandum states.
They said LaRosa acted out of “a mixture of equal parts boredom and bloodlust” and is “a budding young psychopath, who will surely mature into a more skilled and cunning killer should [the] Court allow it.”
Lengthy stays in juvenile facilities did not alter LaRosa’s behavior or lead him toward rehabilitation, the prosecutors argue.
“His crimes and actions clearly demonstrate that he is irreparably corrupt, devoid of any human decency, and, consequently, not worthy of another bite at the apple,” the memorandum states.
LaRosa’s attorneys filed their own memorandum, which argues that the underdeveloped brains of juveniles require a different approach when sentencing juvenile offenders.
“Gone are the days of concluding a juvenile is ‘irredeemable’ and not amenable to rehabilitation,” the memorandum states.
The defense attorneys chart LaRosa’s diagnoses of mental illness and addiction and document a troubled family history.
They argue LaRosa has regrets and has developed a group with fellow residents at the juvenile detention center focused on improving their lives.
“Jacob thinks about all the things he’s done, day and night, and cannot forgive himself, no matter how hard he tries,” the memorandum states.
The attorneys admit there is no easy answer but request “an opportunity [for LaRosa] to at some point see his family outside of the prison walls.”
“Give him an opportunity to earn a release some day,” the memorandum concludes. “If he does not take advantage of that opportunity, he will ultimately serve the balance of his life in prison because he will never be released.”
A sentencing date before Judge W. Wyatt McKay has not been scheduled.