An 18-year-old Detroit man convicted of murder in the shooting death of an Oak Park police officer has been sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole.
In a statement directed only to his family, Jonathan Belton said, “This isn’t over yet,” urging his family to stay strong and vowing to keep fighting his conviction.
A jury last month found him guilty on counts of murdering a police officer and first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of officer Mason Samborski in December, 2008.
Belton was 16 years old and didn’t have a driver’s license when Samborski pulled him over in Oak Park. Authorities say Samborski drove him to an apartment complex to have an adult take custody of the teen or identify him.
Members of Samborski’s family read statements in court during Tuesday’s sentencing. Through her tears, Samborski’s widow Sarah said, at first, their young daughter didn’t understand what had happened to her father.
“When he was first killed, she would run around the house looking for him and call out ‘Daddy, where are you?’ But, I tried explaining to Maddie what had happened to him and she said to me ‘ Oh, Daddy got a boo-boo, I got a boo-boo on my hand’,” she said.
Samborski’s father, Ken said and his family has been violated and irreparably harmed by Jonathan Belton.
“Never again will we have the pleasure of his company, hear his voice , his laugh, feel the warmth of his smile or delight in the joy of seeing him being the pride of happiness of his wife, his daughter and their life together,” Ken Samborski said.
Defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger has said Samborski accidentally shot himself during a struggle with Belton.
But, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said she doubts Belton has grounds for an appeal.
“If you’ve watched this trial very carefully, you might note that we had an appellate attorney sitting with our trial attorney, so that those issues are very well covered,” she said.
Cooper also noted Belton’s lack of remorse in his statement in court.
“I think it might have been better, for all concerned, if he were a bit more remorseful or at least sorry for the circumstances, whether he agrees with the factual scenario or not,” Cooper said.