Suspects parents get probation in church shooting

| May 24, 2010

YOUNGSTOWN – The parents of a man accused of murdering an elderly woman in the parking lot of a South Side church in January were sentenced to probation Friday after pleading to a charge that they threatened a witness against their son.

John Houser, 46, and Frances Cianciola, 42, also were warned by Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Lou D'Apolito that any contact with anyone in the case against their son, Jamar Houser, 18, will result in immediate jail time.

Cianciola was sentenced to two years probation, in part because she has no criminal record. John Houser was placed on five years probation. They each pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony.

The probation can be shortened or lengthened depending on how long the case against Jamar Houser goes on and their behavior, D'Apolito said.

They are the parents of Jamar Houser, 18, of 2704 Volney, Youngstown, who is accused of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder in the Jan. 23 shooting death of Angeline Fimognari, 80, outside St. Dominic Church. He can face the death penalty if convicted. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for June 9, also before D'Apolito.

Police believe that Fimognari was shot after being robbed. She was the only person in the parking lot when the shooting occurred.

According to a Youngstown police report, on Feb. 4 two people were walking on East Philadelphia Street when a vehicle approached them. The occupants of the car told the people to deliver a message that they were going to kill someone who they believe gave information to the police which led to Houser's arrest.

John Houser and Cianciola were arrested the next day without incident. Police seized a cell phone as evidence in the case. Cianciola served five days in jail before posting bond while John Houser served 60 days.

Assistant Prosecutor Becky Doherty told D'Apolito probation was recommended so that there is some type of supervision on them while the case proceeds against their son. The presentence investigation also recommended probation and that the threat was made through a third person, she said.

That was something that Ross Smith, John Houser's attorney, also told D'Apolito.

''It was more of a like a bumping into these people,'' Smith said.

Doug Taylor, Cianciola's lawyer, said the five days his client spent in jail were something she does not want to repeat.

''That's an experience she will never forget,'' Taylor said.

John Houser and Cianciola both said they were sorry about what happened.

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Category: Church Security

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