(WKBN) — Marie Belcastro’s family is celebrating a “small victory” in their fight to reverse a state law that took effect in 2021 that made her killer eligible for parole.

Belcastro was 94 years old when 15-year-old Jacob LaRosa tried to rape and brutally murdered her in March of 2015.

LaRosa was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole three years later.
In 2021, Senate Bill 256 retroactively gave LaRosa the ability to have a parole hearing after serving 25 years, and then every five years after that.

The time between parole hearings was increased under Senate Bill 288, which was signed by Governor Mike DeWine on Jan. 3.

First News spoke with Brian Kirk and Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker about the amendment included in a bill signed by Governor Mike DeWine earlier this month which they call a step in the right direction.

“It’s a big difference. I think the notion of going every five years seems overwhelming — the notion of going every 10 years feels more manageable,” said Brian Kirk, Belcastro’s grandson.

He’s been fighting changes to state law made under Senate Bill 256, which made Belcastro’s juvenile killer eligible for parole.

“It’s not everything we want, but we’ll just keep fighting,” Kirk said.

“It is a small victory for those who are fighting for the victims and to keep these murderers in prison where they belong, but it doesn’t go far enough. We need to go back to pre-senate Bill 256,” Becker said.

The changes were included in the bill that strengthened distracted driving laws. It takes effect on April 4.