Grand jury to get church slaying case

| February 9, 2010

YOUNGSTOWN – The case of a man facing charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in the death of a St. Dominic parishioner was bound over to a grand jury on Monday for consideration of charges that could end in a death sentence.

Jamar Houser, 18, appeared Monday before Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich in a preliminary hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes. Still, security was high. Guards were poised at the elevator with handheld metal detectors, and an order to prevent people from entering the court 15 minutes before the hearing began.

Houser, appearing with attorney Michael Villani, waived the preliminary hearing, meaning that the case will go to the grand jury, which will decide whether to indict Houser.

He is accused of shooting 80-year-old Angeline Fimognari in the head as she prepared to leave the parking lot of St. Dominic Church the morning of Jan. 23. Police believe the motive was robbery.

Houser was arraigned in Milich's court last week and is being held on $3 million bond. He entered no plea.

Dressed in a bright-orange prison jumpsuit, Houser was expressionless as Villani told the judge he spoke with the suspect about waiving the preliminary hearing.

Also in attendance Monday was family of the murder victim. Gary Milano, Fimognari's nephew, said they were hoping to hear the evidence in the case.

"We were kind of surprised,'' Milano said. ''We'll have to wait and see."

According to City Prosecutor Jay Macejko, it usually takes about two weeks to hear back from the grand jury. The case is still under investigation, he said.

Macejko said the additional security was needed both for witnesses and for Houser himself. Houser's parents, John Houser and Frances Cianciola were arrested last week on charges of intimidating a man who spoke to police in the case.

"Some witnesses were allowed to leave the area," Macejko said.

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Category: Church Security

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