Prosecutor seeks life for Jacob LaRosa

WARREN — Saying the crimes he committed were “straight out of a slasher film,” Trumbull County prosecutors want Jacob LaRosa locked up for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole.

LaRosa, 18, was 15 when he was accused in the rape and brutal murder of his 94-year-old neighbor, Marie Belcastro, at her home in Niles in March 2015. He pleaded no contest and was found guilty in February of charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and attempted rape for killing Balcastro in her Cherry Street home.

LaRosa was tried as an adult after several unsuccessful attempts by his attorneys to have him tried as a juvenile. LaRosa could face life in prison without parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20, 25 or 30 years.

In a 21-page memorandum filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on Friday, Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Becker asks Judge W. Wyatt McKay to sentence LaRosa to life without parole, but if he does not get life without parole, Becker asks the judge to sentence LaRosa to consecutive sentences “to protect the public and to adequately punish the defendant.”

“The state believes that in order to properly sentence this defendant, this court must fully appreciate the level of depravity this defendant exhibited when committing these heinous crimes. Stated simply, the offenses this defendant committed are straight out of a slasher film. It is evident that there was no motive, other than murder and mayhem for the sake of murder and mayhem,” Becker wrote.

The memo details LaRosa’s crime, saying he beat the 80-pound woman repeatedly with a flashlight in the head and face, “leaving fragments of her skull on the dining room floor” along with shards of her hearing aid, which was broken in the attack. He then dragged her through the house and continued beating her, finally dragging her to her bedroom, where he attempted to sexually assault her, the memo states.

“The physical evidence confirms that Marie Belcastro was indeed alive throughout the duration of these three separate assaults. One can only imagine the terror that went through her mind as this defendant struck her, over and over again, and then tried to rape her lifeless, dying body,” Becker wrote.

Becker states that LaRosa had been released from juvenile detention just hours before attacking Belcastro and has shown “zero remorse.” He also notes that LaRosa has had dozens of disciplinary reprimands at the Trumbull County Jail while awaiting trial and sentencing.

In the memo, Becker states there was no obvious motive for the crime.

“It was committed seemingly for no reason at all, other than a mixture of equal parts boredom and bloodlust. These are the acts of a budding young psychopath, who will surely mature into a more skilled and cunning killer should this court allow it,” Becker wrote.

Becker argues that because of the victim’s age and frail nature, the fact that LaRosa has shown no remorse and is likely to commit future crimes, he should never be released from prison.

At his sentencing hearing in April, LaRosa apologized to Belcastro’s family and told the judge he could never forgive himself for what he did, but he hoped to make it home to his family one day. He told his psychologist that he deserved life in prison, according to court documents.

According to the defendant’s 54-page sentencing memorandum obtained by Tribune news partner WKBN 27, the defense team argues that “there is no evidence of irreparable corruption,” saying a sentence of life without parole would be unconstitutional

No sentencing date has been set, according to court files.

mkosinski@tribtoday.com

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