December 22, 2014

Elyria
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38°F
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Defense attorneys given info in murder case

Tristen Belfiore

Tristen Belfiore

ELYRIA — Prosecutors have agreed to turn over police reports and witness interviews to attorneys representing accused killer Tristen Belfiore and his family before a hearing in which they intend to move the case against the 17-year-old to the adult criminal justice system.

But the information will only be provided to the lawyers, who won’t be able to show the documents and recordings to their client or anyone else under the terms of an agreement reached Thursday in Lorain County Juvenile Court.

Assistant County Prosecutor Adam Bryda wrote in a motion filed that prosecutors are concerned about witness safety.

“The State’s concern is due to persons connected to the accused threatening witnesses in this case,” Bryda wrote.

Michael Towne, Belfiore’s defense attorney and other lawyers involved in the case, had complained last week that prosecutors were refusing to divulge the information linking Belfiore to the July 1 slaying of Davion Strupe in the Westway Garden Apartments in Elyria.

Towne said during a hearing last week that all prosecutors had given him was the death certificate for Strupe, who was shot after being beaten, and the names of police officers and other witnesses.

But Towne said after Thursday’s hearing that now that prosecutors have agreed to provide the additional information he and the other lawyers will be able to prepare to defend Belfiore during a probable cause hearing.

Because of Belfiore’s age and the murder charge against him — prosecutors dropped additional aggravated murder and other charges Thursday — his case must be sent to adult court under state law.

Juvenile Judge Frank Janik is scheduled to hold the hearing on the matter on Sept. 30. It had originally been scheduled for later this month, but the judge agreed to the delay because of the dispute over evidence.

Defense attorneys also plan to bring up whether Belfiore is entitled to what is known as an amenability hearing in which the judge would need to review whether Belfiore’s case should be handled in juvenile court. The Ohio Supreme Court is considering how to handle an unrelated case challenging mandatory bindovers to adult court.

Elyria police have said that Strupe, 24, was killed after a group of people went looking for him for selling drugs in the area. Strupe was allegedly hauled out of an apartment and beaten before he was able to flee. Investigators contend he was shot once by Belfiore.

Todd Wells, Markus Martin and Anthony Marcano are also facing murder charges in connection with Strupe’s death, while several other people are charged with aggravated riot for their alleged involvement in the attack.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.