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Attorneys seek to prevent writer's testimony in NT murder trial

Attorneys seek to prevent writer's testimony in NT murder trial

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A judge reserved decision Thursday on whether a former classmate of Joseph H. Belstadt who is writing a book about his case must testify at his murder trial.

Belstadt is charged with murder in the 1993 slaying of Mandy Steingasser, 17, of North Tonawanda. Steingasser's body was found at Bond Lake County Park in Lewiston on Oct. 25, 1993. An autopsy concluded she had been strangled.

Belstadt, who was 18 at the time, was long the prime suspect in the eyes of North Tonawanda police, but he was not arrested until April 2018, after a Niagara County grand jury handed up an indictment based on new DNA testing of evidence seized from Belstadt's car in 1993.

Samantha Maziarz Christmann, who attended school with both Belstadt and Steingasser, plans to write a book about the case. Christmann, a business reporter and columnist for The Buffalo News, is not covering the trial for The News.

The prosecution subpoenaed her for the trial last year, after learning that she interviewed Belstadt and he gave her a different version of his whereabouts on the night Steingasser was last seen alive than he had given in various interviews with police.

Christmann's attorneys sought to quash the subpoena, saying her information is privileged under the state shield law for journalists.

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Niagara County prosecutors told a Niagara County Court jury Thursday that Joseph H. Belstadt’s variety of statements in the days after Mandy Steingasser’s disappearance implicated him in the killing of the 17-year-old more than a quarter-century ago. “We will prove to you this defendant, Joseph Belstadt, is guilty of the murder,” Assistant District Attorney Mary Jean Bowman said during

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