Jury pool will grow in Malvasi trial
Postponed 4 times, trial to begin Monday
YOUNGSTOWN — The aggravated vehicular homicide trial of Michael G. Malvasi II, which has been scheduled and then postponed four times since COVID-19 began, looks possible for Monday on the fifth try.
It will be heard by Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who has requested additional jurors be called to the courthouse in an effort to overcome COVID-19 concerns.
A Nov. 18, 2017, crash killed passenger Ryan Lanzo, 23, of Boardman, resulting in Malvasi’s charges. The charges were almost three years old when the trial was reset last October.
Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Mike Yacovone expressed disappointment when that postponement took place.
“By no means are we happy that the Lanzo family has to wait any longer,” Yacovone said Oct. 19, 2020, adding that preparing for the trial took a great deal of time.
At that time, COVID-19 was on the upswing. Just before jury selection began, the lawyers and judge learned one of the 40 potential jurors tested positive for the virus. Two other potential jurors expressed concerns about being on the jury because of the virus.
This time, 80 potential jurors are expected to be called for the case, Bob Jackson, Mahoning County jury commissioner, said.
That many people won’t fit in Sweeney’s courtroom at one time, so the jurors probably will be split into two groups, Jackson said. Sweeney’s courtroom is the largest in the courthouse.
The last jury trial to take place in the courthouse was Nov. 2 and 3, 2020, when Lamar Armstrong, 34, was tried and convicted of felonious assault with a gun specification in Judge John Durkin’s courtroom.
The virus peaked in December and January, but case numbers have dropped since vaccination began several months ago.
Malvasi, 30, of Timber Run Drive in Canfield, is accused of being intoxicated while driving his father’s car, failing to stop after an accident on Shields Road in Canfield and tampering with evidence. The last charge accuses Malvasi of tampering with Lanzo’s body after the crash.
Malvasi is accused crashing near state Route 46, leaving Lanzo behind, walking or running home, getting another vehicle, returning to the crash, picking up Lanzo and taking him back to Malvasi’s house.
Lanzo later was pronounced dead on arrival at the St. Elizabeth emergency center in Austintown, where Malvasi’s father, Michael Malvasi Sr., took him.
In addition to the aggravated vehicular homicide charge, Malvasi II faces charges of failure to stop after an accident, tampering with evidence and drunken driving.
Two of the charges carry a possible penalty of about eight years in prison if convicted.