Defiant to the end, convicted cop killer Jonathan Belton pledged to his family in a packed courtroom Tuesday that he would be free on appeal.
“You all know this is not over,” he said shortly before he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2008 shooting death of Oak Park Public Safety Officer Mason Samborski in an apartment building hallway.
“Amen!” family members in the courtroom called out in response.
“The Lord’s got the last word and this will come back on appeal,” Belton continued. “I love you all to death. Don’t run from the rain, learn to dance in it. We’re going to dance.”
He did not address Samborski’s family, who sat quietly in the second row, some of them weeping.
The courtroom was packed and tense, with extra deputies standing by. One of Belton’s supporters was ordered out of the courtroom after he began shouting to Belton.
“I love you, bro,” the man shouted. Belton replied, “I love you, too.” The man continued, “Keep your head up,” before he was escorted out by deputies.
Samborski’s widow, Sarah Samborski, told Belton during the victim witness statement before his sentencing that she could not forgive him for taking away her husband, the father of her 3-year-old daughter.
“You not only killed Mason, you hurt us all, Jonathan Belton,” she said. “You shattered my happiness, my hopes and my dreams, and for that I’ll never forgive you.”
She also held up a drawing by her daughter, showing their little family. “Only Mason is not with us, he’s looking over us,” she said, crying.
Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot called the case “tragic beyond words.”
Belton, 18, was convicted of first-degree murder in November in the death of Mason Samborski, 28, of Howell.
The officer was shot to death following a traffic stop in the early morning hours of Dec. 28.
Police say that Belton was driving without a license, and Samborski agreed to take him to the Rue Versailles apartment complex, where Belton said he had family. Once there, the two scuffled and Samborski was shot with his own gun.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represented Belton, argued Samborski accidentally shot himself during the struggle. Fieger was not in the courtroom Tuesday. Belton was represented by Fieger’s associate, Michael Dezsi.
Oak Park Public Safety Chief John McNeilance later said the sentencing brought “some satisfaction, but it’s not something you ever get over.”
Of Belton’s statements in court, he said: “He obviously has no remorse, whatsoever.”
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