Amato trial pushed back to AugustBy MARY ANN GREIER (email@example.com)
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LISBON - The jury trial for a Wellsville man charged with killing his wife has been pushed back to Aug. 18 due to the unavailability of the defense team's crime scene expert for the trial date next week.
Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike granted a continuance requested on behalf of 37-year-old Jack Amato Jr., with no objection from Special Prosecutor Lynn Grimshaw, who attended the hearing by phone Monday afternoon. Attorneys James Hartford and Nicholas Amato represented the defendant, who was present in the courtroom.
Hartford said the expert wasn't available for the trial set for Feb. 17, but was available in May or late August. At the suggestion of Grimshaw, Pike agreed to set the new trial date for the murder case, with a final status hearing set for 9 a.m. Aug. 10.
He set the trial date for a separate weapons case against Amato on May 19, with a status hearing set for 11:30 a.m. May 11.
Amato was indicted last year for murder and having weapons under disability in the shooting of his wife, Tonia, at their Wellsville residence on July 1, 2007. He claimed self-defense, saying she fired a gun at him first after an argument, then he shot her with a .45-caliber handgun.
Initially he was released from jail after his father posted bond and had been confined under electronic monitoring at his parents' Irondale home awaiting trial. During a search of the Irondale residence on Sept. 17 related to the murder investigation, investigators found guns and an alleged pipe bomb in his room, leading to an additional five counts of having weapons under disability and one count of possession of a dangerous ordnance.
He remains jailed under the bond for the weapons case, with a suppression hearing set before a visiting judge at 1 p.m. March 13. Pike recused himself from considering the suppression issue since he issued the search warrant being questioned. Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. has been assigned to handle the evidence suppression motion filed by Hartford.