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Defendant in 1993 North Tonawanda murder can keep his attorneys

Joseph H. Belstadt, charged with murdering a North Tonawanda teenager in 1993, was allowed Wednesday to keep his attorneys despite a potential conflict of interest involving his ex-wife's expected testimony.

Prosecutors want Karrie Grimmer, the ex-wife, to testify in the upcoming trial about what Belstadt said during their marriage about Mandy Steingasser's death. Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek said some of Grimmer's testimony could show Belstadt's "consciousness of guilt."

An attorney in co-defense counsel Michele G. Bergevin's law firm represented Grimmer in the couple's 2007 divorce. County Judge Sara Sheldon said Belstadt could waive that conflict and keep Bergevin and Dominic H. Saraceno as his attorneys.

"I'm very comfortable with the way it is," Belstadt replied. Pretrial hearings begin Monday.

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