Guilty verdict in Oak Park officer's death

PONTIAC (AP) -- An 18-year-old Detroit man was convicted last Friday of murder in the shooting death of a suburban police officer who pulled him over on a traffic stop and then took him to an apartment complex to try to find a relative.

An Oakland County Circuit Court jury found Jonathan Belton guilty on two murder counts -- murdering a police officer and first-degree premeditated murder -- in the Dec. 28, 2008, slaying of Oak Park officer Mason Samborski. Belton will be sentenced Dec. 14 to mandatory life in prison without parole.

Belton was 16 when Samborski pulled him over in Oak Park, a few miles north of Detroit. Belton didn't have a driver's license, and authorities have said Samborski drove him to a nearby apartment complex with the apparent intention of seeking an adult to take custody of the teen or identify him.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger had argued that Samborski accidentally shot himself during a struggle with Belton.

Prosecutors said Belton took the officer's gun.

"They got it right," Ken Samborski, the officer's father, told reporters after the jury's verdict was read. "It was not an accident. They got it right, and Mason can now rest in peace."

Belton also was convicted of two counts of using a firearm during a felony, according to The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

As deputies led him from the Pontiac courtroom, Belton told his mother: "Keep your head up, Momma."

He told other relatives: "I love you all. You stay strong."

Published: Tue, Nov 23, 2010

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