The teenager accused of leaving a Michigan police officer dead in an apartment building’s hallway a year ago won’t be tried until 2010.
Jonathan Belton, who was arrested after the Dec. 28, 2008 shooting of Oak Park, Mich., policeman Mason Samborski, was to face a murder charge this month, but the trial has been re-scheduled for May 3. Belton, who was 16 at the time of the incident, could be the youngest person ever accused of killing an on-duty police officer.
But family members and famed criminal defense lawyer Geoffrey Fieger say there’s more than what’s apparent in reports of the incident.
Police say Belton was driving his mother’s SUV without a license when Samborski pulled him over on a routine stop. Belton allegedly lied, saying that he was close to his mother’s house, and Samborski is said to have planned to release Belton to his mom’s custody. But instead of meeting his mother, reports say, Belton led Samborski to the apartment of a friend, claiming she was his sister.
When Belton tried to flee, according to preliminary court testimony, the two struggled and Belton was witnessed standing over the fallen cop after one shot had been fired. Belton later turned himself in.
Officers claim that their colleague was trying give Belton a break by releasing him to a parent, but Belton’s defense attorneys question why Samborski never called in the traffic stop, in accordance with procedure. Belton’s supporters say that labeling the now-17-year-old a “cop-killer” is unfair, and that his side of the story will vindicate him.
Scheduling conflicts led to the new trial date. Fieger, who’s best known for defending assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, is representing Belton on a pro-bono basis. Fieger also represented Nathaniel Abraham, who became Michigan’s youngest accused murderer when he shot a stranger in 1997, unprovoked, at age 11.