Davisville Road Resident Sentenced for Manslaughter

March 13, 2011 Leave a comment

By Keith Phucas
The Public Spirit

Thomas Craig Bellezza

An Upper Moreland man jealous of his ex-girlfriend’s new friend was sentenced to prison Friday for fatally beating the boyfriend with a baseball bat outside the woman’s home last year.

Thomas Craig Bellezza, 51, of Davisville Road, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court in December to involuntary manslaughter, terroristic threats and possessing an instrument of crime in connection with the death of 53-year-old Robert “Rusty” Masten on Feb. 9, 2010.

Before sentencing, Bellezza’s defense lawyer, A. Charles Peruto Jr., asked Judge William J. Furber Jr. to consider the fact that Masten first wielded the wooden bat that snowy night before his client wrestled it away from him and delivered the deadly blow.

“We have to ask, if not for the bat, we might not be here,” Perutto said. “The bat changed everything.”

But after after considering the case and a report on Bellezza’s background, Furber reasoned that the defendant’s decision to use the victim’s bat as a weapon was a grave mistake.

“This is a tragedy,” the judge said. “But when one analyzes it, it is one that could have been avoided.”

Furber sentenced Bellezza to a total of 51 months to 12 years behind bars for the three counts. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Rebecca Strubel and John Walko.

Masten’s sisters, Deborah McDonald and Lenore Sellman, and a niece, Tara Nash, read victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing Friday afternoon.

Nash, a nurse who works in Abington Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, said her uncle sustained multiple skull fractures during the violent assault.

“This was a horrible way to die,” she said.

According to prosecutors, Bellezza drove to his former girlfriend Denise DeMino’s Horsham home that night and after confronting Masten outside, beat him with the bat.

According to one witness, the defendant struck the victim while he was on the ground with a “wood chopping” overhead blow.

When police arrived at the scene, Bellezza told them, “I took the bat from him and hit him” and told police the problem between him and Masten “was over a girl,” according to the criminal complaint. Bellezza had blood on his jacket, pants, shoes and hands and a bat lay on the ground near the bleeding man.

DeMino told authorities that she had been trying to distance herself from Bellezza for about a month and that Bellezza was jealous about her relationship with Masten, who DeMino described as a friend.

At around 5:30 p.m., Masten and DeMino had dinner at her home. During the evening, the woman ignored incoming calls from Bellezza, who left a voice message just before 9 p.m. saying, “Hello, I’m sorry. But I’m finished being disrespected by you. You’re a disrespectful person the way you treated me. And now it’s my turn to disrespect you. And that’s what I’m going to do.”

Later, after Masten spoke on the phone with Bellezza, DeMino asked Masten to leave the house to avoid any trouble. Before leaving, Masten told DeMino he kept a bat in his pickup truck and would defend himself against the former boyfriend, according to court papers.

At 10:16 p.m., Bellezza left a more ominous phone message for DeMino: “Hey Denise. It’s Tom. It’s quarter after 10. It’s snowing. Don’t get too comfortable.”

Bellezza then drove to the MacIntosh Court residence, parked his truck and sat in the vehicle waiting about 10 minutes for Masten to come outside, authorities said. DeMino first became aware of the assault when she heard Bellezza yelling outside her home and called 911.

The defendant told detectives that he believed he was hit by the bat during the struggle with Masten, when they both fell to the ground. Bellezza said he wrestled the bat away from Masten, and the men got back on their feet before he swung the bat at the other man.

However, witnesses claimed Masten was struck while lying on the ground, according to court papers.

Prior to sentencing, Walko argued that the defendant made many bad choices that night. And clubbing the man on the back of head had fatal consequences.

“Of all the choices he made that night, this was the worse,” Walko said.

Republished with the permission of The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

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Swollen River Tops Banks in Yardley

March 13, 2011 Leave a comment

 

The view from River Road near the Yardley Inn in Yardley, Saturday afternoon. Water from the swollen Delaware River has topped its banks and has closed many roads along the river. Flood waters are expected to recede by Monday. (Reader Submitted)

 

Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Remember! Tonight, before you go to bed, change your clocks, one hour ahead. Also tonight change the batteries in your homes smoke detectors.

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Cops: 50 Hypodermic Needles Discovered by Mother with Child; 1 Child Pricked

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Sofield
Editor – (tsofield@buxmontnews.com)

File - (Tom Sofield)

Police in Northampton are investigating the discovery of nearly 50 hypodermic needles that were found in the Village Shires section of the township.

The department is warning residents to stay away from the retention basin located in the neighborhood due to the discovery of the needles, some of which where uncapped.

Friday afternoon police were called to the retention basin, located at the end of Portsmouth Court just off Buck Road, after a mother with her child had discovered at least 10 hypodermic needles, according to reports.

Officers discovered a 9-year-old child was pricked by two of the needles earlier in the day, Friday. The parents were asked take the child to the hospital by police. The 9-year-old was treated and released, police said.

Police think the 50-or-so needles were dumped into a storm drain on nearby Banbury Court and were washed into the basin during recent rain events.

If you discover a hypodermic needle police ask that you don’t touch it and contact them to dispose of it.

Categories: Holland, Northampton, Police

Klinger Presents Beauty and the Beast

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Sofield
Editor – (tsofield@buxmontnews.com)

Kilnger Middle School in Upper Southampton will be presenting it’s final performance of Beauty and the Beast tonight starting at 7 p.m.

The show based off the Disney film and will be performed by Klinger Middle School students.

The play was staged last evening and Saturday afternoon.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citziens.

Pictures from last night’s performance (photos courtesy of Paul Cammarota):

The show was directed by teacher Julie Flack, who received assitance from faculty member Renee Stanley.

Partial Cast List:

Prince/Beast…..Corey Schriver

Belle…..Carli Showmaker (Friday and Saturday afternoon performances)

Belle…..Elizabeth Marucci (Saturday evening performance)

Narrator #1…..Quincy Crowther

Narrator #2…..Devin Gillman

Narrator #3…..Noel Langan

Narrator #4…..Ray Varela-Urizar

Old Woman/Enchantress…..Courtney Rafferty

Gaston…..Josh Chast

LeFou…..Matt Kistner

2011 Tennent Black and White Night

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Sofield
Editor – (tsofield@buxmontnews.com)

After a week of events William Tennent High School hosted the finale of the school’s Black and White week.

The winner was the Black Chaos team who beat the White Pirates by only 32 points. The final score was: Black Chaos – 375, White Pirates – 343.

The competition splits the school based on last name into two teams, black and white.

Upper Moreland Sonic Receives Occupancy Permit Extension

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

By Jesse Reilly
The Public Spirit

After nearly a year of discussions and numerous extensions for its temporary occupancy permit, it seems Sonic may be close to a more permanent status.

In a 5-2 vote, with Commissioners Lisa Romaniello and James McKenna dissenting, the Upper Moreland Board of Commissioners approved a 30-day extension of temporary occupancy for the Sonic that opened at the corner of Mill and Easton roads just about a year ago.

Sonic was unable to get a permanent occupancy permit due to a failure to complete a lease agreement with the state’s turnpike commission, but on Monday Josh Gantz, the township’s assistant solicitor, said the two parties had reached an agreement that will likely be finalized in the next few days.

The lease is necessary because Sonic’s close proximity to the turnpike.

Once the lease is finalized, Gantz said the township and Sonic could complete a storm-water agreement that was only waiting on the lease.

Although one Quigley Avenue resident was upset about the number of extensions the fast-food restaurant received, the majority of the commissioners stood behind the decision.

“I went along with this because there was no liability to the township,” Commissioner Donna Parsell said. “The turnpike commission is notoriously difficult to work with and I don’t see where it was a bad decision.”

To make sure the township was not liable if an agreement could not have been reached, it held a significant amount of money in escrow.

Commission Kip McFatridge agreed.

“We’ve been collecting taxes from them for a year now,” he said, adding that the process was so long because the turnpike commission would not discuss a lease agreement until Sonic completed about $50,000 worth of improvements to the turnpike’s property. “That was a big part of the hold-up right there.”

But, Commissioner Lisa Romaniello said the improvement project is no excuse.

“I have consistently voted against this project because of the way it came through committee,” she said. “[The developers] should have done their homework and anticipated that something like this could have happened, I don’t think we should be setting precedents like this.”

But Commissioner Joe Lavalle maintained that had anything gone awry the township was able to pull the plug on the operation.

“We wanted to have them come back for extensions every 30 days so we could monitor the progress,” he said. “We were always able to make them vacate the property.”

The commissioners are hopeful this will be the last extension for Sonic. If the lease is not finalized the fast-food restaurant will have to come before the board again in April.

Republished with the permission of The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

Categories: Upper Moreland, Willow Grove Tags: