Amato trial pushed backBy MARY ANN GREIER (firstname.lastname@example.org)By MARY ANN GREIER email@example.com LISBON — Leetonia Council President D
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LISBON - The trial for one murder defendant has led to a new trial date in a weapons case against another murder defendant.
Defense attorneys for Jack (J.C.) Amato Jr. sought the continuance this week in the weapons case filed against their client, who's also facing a jury trial for charges of murder and one count of having weapons under disability in the July 1, 2007, shooting death of his wife, Tonia.
The separate weapons indictment, which came after the murder indictment, includes an additional five counts of having weapons under disability and one count of possession of a dangerous ordinance, all felonies.
A status hearing had been set for Monday, with the jury trial scheduled to begin May 19 before Judge C. Ashley Pike of Common Pleas Court for the weapons case.
Amato's defense attorneys, James Hartford and Doug King, though, are in the middle of a murder trial which their motion, filed by defense attorney Nicholas Amato, said was going to last a lot longer than anticipated. The trial for their client Eric Dillard began this past Tuesday and will continue through part of next week, leaving just a few days before the start of the weapons trial, not to mention the status hearing which was already going to be bumped by the Dillard trial.
"Counsel for the defense will be unable to adequately prepare for trial in this matter," the motion for continuance said.
Pike granted the motion, setting a new trial date of Sept. 15.
The murder trial against Amato remains set for Aug. 18, with a status hearing at 9 a.m. Aug. 10.
Like Dillard, Amato is claiming self-defense. He claimed his wife fired a gun at him first after they argued, then he shot her with a .45-caliber handgun.
He had been released from jail after his father posted bond and had been confined under electronic monitoring at his father's Irondale home awaiting trial when a search related to the murder investigation revealed guns and an alleged pipe bomb in his bedroom. The discovery resulted in the additional weapons charges.
The prosecution in both Amato cases is being handled by Special Prosecutor Lynn Grimshaw, who was appointed when county Prosecutor Robert Herron recused himself due to a conflict.