A somber jury this morning convicted a Detroit teen of first-degree murder in the 2008 shooting death on an Oak Park Public Safety officer.
Jonathan Belton, 18, kept his head low as the Oakland County jury announced its decision. His attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, put his arm around him. Family members of officer Mason Samborski hugged his widow, Sarah Samborski, as she wiped tears.
As Belton was led away in shackles, he called to his mother, in the courtroom, “Keep your head up, Momma,” and to other family members, “I love you all…you stay strong.” His mother called out, “It ain’t over.”
Fieger and the Belton family, many in tears, left without talking to reporters.
Outside the Oakland County prosecutor’s office, Samborski’s family gathered in the morning sun. Samborski’s father, Ken Samborski, thanked the prosecutors and police who helped convict Belton. And he had praise for the jury. “They got it right. It was not an accident. They got it right and now Mason can rest in peace.”
The four men and eight women on the jury left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Oakland County Circuit court judge Rae Lee Chabot refused to order their names released, as requested by the Detroit Free Press.
This morning’s verdict comes after more than five weeks of contentious trial, with Fieger arguing that Samborski shot himself while scuffling with Belton following a traffic stop in the early morning of Dec. 28, 2008.
Assistant prosecutor Ken Frazee argued the killing was deliberate.
Jurors deliberated about 10 hours over three days.
In addition to finding Belton guilty of murdering a police officer, a life offense, jurors also convicted him of a separate count of first degree premeditated murder and two counts of using a gun in the commission of a felony.
He will be sentenced to life in prison without parole on Dec. 14.
Read more: Jury convicts Detroit teen of Oak Park police slaying | freep.com | Detroit Free Press