WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Family members of crime victims are pushing back against a recent change in Ohio law that could let some young convicts out of prison early.
Should teen suspects who are charged with violent crimes, convicted and sentenced to life in prison ever be granted the possibility of parole? That’s the point relatives of Niles murder victim Marie Belcastro made in Warren outside of the Trumbull County Courthouse on Friday.
Marie’s grandson is traveling the state calling for the repeal of Senate Bill 256, which would allow suspects like Jacob LaRosa, who was a teenager when he killed the victim in 2015, the opportunity at least to be eligible for parole.
LaRosa was tried, convicted and sent to prison for killing 94-year-old Belcastro.
Grandson Brian Kirk has been traveling around the state trying to gather support.
“I would argue this creates a whole new class of victims in the state of Ohio… and you’re punishing them retroactively,” Kirk said.
Kirk’s daughter was just nine when her great-grandmother died and thinks lawmakers took away the closure her family had.
“Honestly, I don’t know how else to say that… it was just… comfort was stolen. They’re the thieves,” Angelina Kirk said.
State Representative Mike O’Brien voted against the measure, and is now working to get it changed.
“If we can have some type of middle ground, specifically to aggravated murder and the elements of that murder, that maybe we can have some kind of remedy,” O’Brien said.
For now, Kirk and his family will continue fighting to ensure LaRosa never gets out of prison.
“I don’t really care about the punishment factor for him. What I care about is, ‘Let’s protect my family.’ My mom and my aunt never would have testified in open court had they thought there was a chance he’d ever be eligible for parole… in their lifetime, and mine and my children’s,” Kirk said.