Friday, August 7, 2009

Amato Update

Bullet heads to forensic lab in Washington state
POSTED: August 7, 2009 Save | Print | Email Email: "Bullet heads to forensic lab in Washington state"
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LISBON - A bullet containing the DNA of shooting victim Tonia Amato is on its way to be examined at a forensic laboratory in Washington state.

County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike issued an order this week stating the bullet and the box it was found in would be shipped to the Columbia International Forensics Laboratory in Newport, Wash., as requested by defense attorney James Hartford, whose client, Jack C. Amato Jr., is charged with murdering his wife.

Pike, in his order, noted this was being done by agreement of both defense counsel and special prosecutor Lynn Grimshaw, who was concerned about the condition of the bullet being lost or damaged in the process of being shipped and examined. He also wanted some order in place establishing the condition of the evidence before it is shipped.

As part of Pike's order, the attorneys for both sides agreed if the bullet or box is lost, damaged or destroyed that "testimony regarding the condition of the bullet and box prior to shipping" would be allowed at trial.

Amato Jr., 37, is currently scheduled to go on trial Aug. 18 but Grimshaw has requested a continuance. A motions hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10 to consider Grimshaw's request and any other motions.

Amato Jr. has admitted shooting his 25-year-old wife in the head at their Wellsville home on July 1, 2007, but claims it was in self defense after she shot at him with a handgun while they were arguing. The first police officer on the scene found Ms. Amato lying face down, with her right hand over a small handgun and a finger resting on the trigger. The gun was cocked.

The .45-caliber bullet with Ms. Amato's DNA was found in the kitchen inside a Sweet and Low box, which had a bullet hole, but the bullet didn't match the handgun Amato Jr. said he used to shoot her. Investigators later searched the home of Amato Jr.'s father for the weapon but were unable to find one that matched the bullet.

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