Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Evidentiary issues cause another delay in trial
By MARY ANN GREIER (mgreier@reviewonline.com)
POSTED: August 25, 2009 Save | Print | Email | Read comments | Post a comment Email: "Evidentiary issues cause another delay in trial"

LISBON - Evidentiary issues have once again delayed any movement toward a new trial date in the Jack "J.C." Amato Jr. murder case, with another telephone conference set for 8:45 a.m. Sept. 15.

On Monday morning, all the attorneys in the case appeared via telephone before Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to check the status on two previously raised discovery issues.

The attorneys included in the conference call were Special Prosecutor Lynn Grimshaw and defense attorneys James Hartford, Nicholas Amato and Charles Amato. Pike took the call at his bench in the open court room.

During the session witnessed by one media representative, two additional issues came up, leading to a need for more time and Pike telling the attorneys he hoped they could set some new trial dates during the next hearing.

Amato, 37, was scheduled to face trial on Aug. 18 for murder and having weapons under disability in the July 1, 2007 shooting death of his wife, Tonia, at their home at 1200 Commerce St., Wellsville, but the trial was postponed. He has maintained that he shot his wife in self-defense, claiming that she fired at him first with a .22-caliber gun and he returned fire, shooting her between the eyes.

After his initial arrest in February 2008, Amato was released from jail on a $100,000 cash or surety bond with the requirement to stay at his father's Irondale residence under house arrest, but he was arrested again in September 2008 and placed in custody for a separate weapons case for having firearms and explosive devices in the room where he was staying. He remains in the county jail.

In the hearing, Hartford said they wanted a copy of a taped statement taken from Larry Gardner, who lived at 1212 Commerce St., Wellsville, according to court documents, saying they had already interviewed him and wanted to know what he told the state of Ohio.

Grimshaw commented that he didn't see how the witness statement was exculpatory. When information is exculpatory, it means it could contain something to help the defendant. He pointed out if there's a question, it usually falls to the court to review a statement for exculpatory information.

Hartford said that would be appropriate, with Pike agreeing to review the statement as soon as it's provided to him.

Hartford also brought up a motion to view evidence filed Thursday by Charles Amato. The motion requested permission for defense counsel to view silver/metallic objects depicted in six photographs from the crime scene, including one which showed an object on a couch or chair and the rest showing items on what appears to be the floor.

Grimshaw asked if they could first go back to the previous issues of a .45-caliber bullet and box sent to the defense's expert in the state of Washington and a report regarding some evidence taken from the defendant's Commerce Street house this year for testing by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

Grimshaw wanted it on the record that the bullet and box were returned to the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office and the BCI&I report was received and turned over to Charles Amato, which was confirmed by the defense.

As for the new motion, he said he couldn't discern anything from what was sent, and would need them to show the photos to the Sheriff's Office detective handling the case so he can see if they have the material requested. Charles Amato said the copies he attached to the motion were taken from a disk provided by the prosecutor's office. He agreed to provide what was needed to the detective.

Once the items in question are located, the defense wants them sent to their expert in Washington state for analysis.

The weapons case also remains on hold, awaiting a new trial date.

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