Rochester-area officer indicted in death of son


HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The case against a Rochester area police officer accused of killing his own son last summer in an Old Forge motel will move forward.

Herkimer County Court Judge John Crandall released a written ruling Monday morning stating that a grand jury had sufficient evidence to indict 59-year-old Michael Leach on a second-degree murder charge.

Leach and members of his family made the trip from Rochester Monday, as he is out on $200,000 bail.

At the time of the deadly shooting around 1 a.m. on July 21, Leach was a part-time police officer with the Village of Perry Police Department, which is about a half hour outside of Rochester.

It was his police-issued handgun that he used to shoot his 38-year-old son Matthew inside the Clark's Beach Motel room the two were sharing while on a trip with a motorcycle group from Rochester.

Leach has said he thought his son was an intruder.

Besides the judge's ruling on not dismissing the case, a ruling was also made Monday morning on the prosecution's request to see all of Leach's personnel files while with the City of Rochester Police Department, including statements to Internal Affairs about a case where he shot a civilian early on in his career in Rochester.

The judge granted the subpoena to get the files, but will review them before determining whether to release anything.

"He was not responsible for that," said Leach's Defense Attorney, Joe Damelio. "Unfortunately, our city has a reputation for violent crimes and our police in Rochester are faced with these situations every minute of every day, that is not something that is not unfamiliar with the Rochester Police Department."

"The records will be sent to chambers. The parties will not be able to view them. The judge will view them and make certain determinations as to what, if any, are releasable to the parties; all of it, redacted versions, etc," said Herkimer County District Attorney Jeff Carpenter. "So, the in camera, it means the judge and court attorney will review those documents."

Leach is due back in court on June 6 for a hearing on whether any statements he made to police will be admissible in this case.

A trial date has been set for August 5.

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