NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — A jury heard from Joseph Belstadt’s friends who saw him the night Mandy Steingasser disappeared as the second week of the murder trial continued Monday in Niagara Falls.
Belstadt is accused of killing 17-year-old Steingasser back in 1993.
Lawyers on both sides agree Belstadt picked up Steingasser the morning she disappeared, September 19, 1993. What they differ on is what happened afterwards.
Lawyers questioned friends and a lead detective on the case at the time about Belstadt’s lie to police that he went to Canada after giving her a ride which he came clean about days later.
Three friends testified Belstadt was mad after getting traffic tickets and declined their invitation to go with them to Canada.
Those witnesses also testified Belstadt later asked them to lie to police and say he did go to Canada with the group.
Former North Tonawanda police detective Edward Schintzius also testified Monday.
He was asked to read two statements Belstadt made to police regarding that night.
Schintzius said Belstadt went to police, they didn’t seek him out first.
In the first statement, Belstadt said he went to Canada after dropping off Steingasser.
In the second statement a few days later, Belstadt said he lied about going to Canada. He said, “I thought I needed a witness to where I was that night after I dropped Mandy off.”
Prosecutors tried to show he only came clean after his friends told police he didn’t go to Canada with them.
The defense tried to show he went voluntarily to be honest about where he was.
The defense’s line of questioning also centered around the detective’s suspicions of Belstadt after he told them he lied, trying to show they had it out for him the whole time.
Prosecutors tried to show police followed up on several leads but all roads led back to Belstadt.
Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.