Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Amato trials moved back
By MARY ANN GREIER Staff Writer
LISBON - With evidence still being examined and a potential for additional expert study depending upon the results, the murder and weapons trials against Jack "J.C." Amato Jr. have been postponed.
Amato was scheduled to face a jury on Aug. 18 for the murder and having weapons under disability charges related to the July 1, 2007, shooting death of his wife, Tonia, at their Commerce Street home in Wellsville. He has maintained he shot her in self-defense after she fired a gun at him during an argument.
He was scheduled to face another jury on Sept. 15 for a separate indictment for his possession of guns and an alleged pipe bomb in a bedroom of his father's Irondale home last September. He was staying there under house arrest as a requirement of his bail in the murder case. Since then, he's been incarcerated at the county jail.
Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court agreed Monday to continue both trials after discussing the matter with attorneys for both sides. Special Prosecutor Lynn Grimshaw requested the continuance in the murder trial due to a request by the defense to have a .45-caliber bullet and the box where it was found in the Amato house examined by a private laboratory in Washington state.
Pike already had ordered the shipment of the bullet and box to the lab last week.
During Monday's hearing, defense attorney James Hartford asked that the weapons case also be continued, with the idea that it should be tried after the murder case. Grimshaw didn't oppose the motion, and Pike agreed.
Pike noted the court had the highest duty to ensure a fair trial, yet also noted the need to get the matter resolved.
He scheduled a telephone conference for 8:45 a.m. Aug. 24 to see where the evidentiary issues stand before scheduling new trial dates.
Defense attorney Nicholas Amato suggested another report on evidence uncovered at the house by a defense expert in May and now in the hands of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation may be available by then. Depending upon the results, Hartford said they may need to request an independent evaluation of that evidence.
Grimshaw said he had not received any information from BCII about the evidence in question, but was trying to find out what was happening with the report.
Posted by Belinda Puchajda at 5:33 PM