Former Rochester police Capt. Michael Leach could spend 3 to 9 years in prison if he wants to plead guilty to fatally shooting his son in an Old Forge motel last summer. That’s a far less punishment than the maximum 25-year-to-life sentence Leach, 59, faces if he’s convicted of second-degree murder after trial.
Former Rochester police Capt. Michael Leach could spend 3 to 9 years in prison if he wants to plead guilty to fatally shooting his son in an Old Forge motel last summer.
That’s a far less punishment than the maximum 25-year-to-life sentence Leach, 59, faces if he’s convicted of second-degree murder after trial.
But either way, Leach will live the rest of his life knowing that he mistakenly killed his own son, a punishment far worse than anything the judicial system could impose, attorneys for both sides agreed Monday.
“Not a moment goes by that he doesn’t think about it,” the elder Leach’s defense attorney, Joseph Damelio, said outside Herkimer County Court. Leach, who at the time was a part-time officer with the Perry Police Department, has said he believed his son, Matthew Leach, 38, was an intruder when he fired his duty weapon into the dark inside their Clarks Beach Motel room on July 21, 2012.
On Monday, Leach heard for the first time that prosecutors would allow him to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter. The offer came after Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter traveled to Rochester last week to discuss the case with the victim’s widow, who agreed that the proposed offer would be a just resolution.
“Trials, they obviously bring the case back to the forefront in the victim’s mind, and to avoid that and to avoid any further victimization of her, we believed it was a just result to try and resolve the case,” Carpenter said.
Since her husband’s death, Matthew Leach’s widow hasn’t had any kind of relationship with her father-in-law, Carpenter said.
Judge John Crandall gave Leach two weeks — until Monday, Aug. 19 — to decide whether he wants to plead guilty.
“We have to sit down, we have to talk,” Damelio said. “It’s my duty as his lawyer to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and all of the legal aspects as well. So yes, that’s going to take some time to sit down and review.”
In the meantime, both sides will continue their plans for a possible trial to begin Nov. 18.
Before then, the defense has until Friday, Sept. 6, to provide any reports created by a forensic expert to determine if there’s any basis for a psychiatric defense at trial. Depending on that report, Carpenter said he would want his own expert to evaluate the case.