Former Police Captain pleads not-guilty in shooting death of his son
HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The retired Rochester Police captain accused of shooting and killing his son in an Old Forge Hotel room this summer was in a Herkimer County Courtroom this morning.
Fifty-nine-year-old Michael Leach pleaded not-guilty to one count of second degree murder and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. The weapon charge does not relate to illegal possession, but rather, the manner in which Leach allegedly used his gun.
It's and intentional murder charge which names Leach's son, 38-year-old Matthew Leach, as the victim. The challenge for the prosecution might be convincing a jury that the veteran police officer with an unblemished record killed his son.
"Well, that's the jury process. I'm here to seek justice in this case, not necessarily convictions. We will present this case to a jury of Mr. Leach's peers and we will let them decide," says Prosecutor and District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter.
Leach's attorney, Joseph Damelio, or Rochester, says he believes the evidence will show that no crime was committed.
"It was a tragedy but it certainly was not an intentional act, meaning he did not intend to kill his son. He thought there was an intruder in his hotel room and he was defending himself," says Damelio.
Damelio declined to say whether or not Leach asked the intruder's identity and declared that he had a weapon that night in the Old Forge hotel room. He says Leach remains more concerned with the loss of his son rather than the criminal case pending. Several members of the Leach family were in Herkimer County Court today. Damelio says the family is in turmoil over the case.
D.A. Carpenter says he's received communication from family members both for and against the charges.
Damelio says Leach was attempting to post $200,000 bail, but as of early Wednesday afternoon he had not yet done that and was still in Herkimer County Jail. Leach is due back in Herkimer County Court April 5, at which time attorneys will argue motions, or requests, made by the defense.