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Former RPD captain sentenced to prison

Herkimer County, N.Y. - A retired Rochester police captain is in jail for the 2012 shooting death of his son.

Michael Leach was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation.

With his family behind him, Leach entered the Herkimer County courtroom Tuesday morning for sentencing.

In June he pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the July 21, 2012 shooting death of his son Matthew Leach. That happened at a motel in Old Forge while the two were on a motorcycle run.

Leach's attorney, Joe Damelio, reminded the court that his client told the grand jury his son, Matthew, was his best friend.

Matthew's mother spoke for the family outside of court, saying they support Michael 110-percent.

“I've been divorce from Mike for 14 years and I would just like to say his family has been here to support him, my son and daughter,” said Linda Leach. “My son [Matthew] and I were extremely close, this has been very difficult for the family and it's unfortunate it has come to this.”

Matthew’s widow Teresa Leach is not so forgiving, she wrote a victim’s impact statement that the Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter read in court.

In it she listed 18 ways the events of July 21, 2012 have changed her life for the worst.

She wrote, “Because of you I lost my best friend. Because of you I no longer have the love of my life.”

Click here to read her statement in full.

“I would like to say it’s unfortunate the victim chose the route she did,” said Linda Leach. “Not all the items she spoke about in her letter are true and I do not care to comment on them. I know what my son would want and he certainly would not want the way this turned out.”

“The conclusion in this case was really dictated by the medical evidence,” explained Carpenter.

Experts from both sides diagnosed Leach with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from a 1970s shooting as a rookie Rochester police officer.

“The question was - should he have perceived and known through these 30-plus years that he was suffering from this that he shouldn't have been sleeping with a loaded fire arm - well my client, at the time, when he was suffering through this he didn't know that,” said Damelio after sentencing.

As part of his probation Leach will have to receive treatment for his PTSD.

He also paid restitution to Matthew’s widow for funeral expenses.

 
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