The murder trial of a former Rochester police captain who fatally shot his son in Old Forge last summer has been postponed until next year.
Michael Leach, 59, was due to begin trial in Herkimer County Court on Nov. 18, but that would not have left enough time for prosecution experts to mentally evaluate Leach.
On Friday, Judge John Crandall granted the prosecution’s request to adjourn the trial, but did not set a new trial date until both sides have a better idea how much pre-trial preparations still need to be done.
Leach will return to court on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to report the progress.
Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter is asking that the judge prevent Leach from arguing a psychiatric defense at trial based on timeliness. Leach’s attorney, Joseph Damelio, waited too long to alert the court that he planned to argue Leach was suffering from post-traumatic stress and sleep disorders when he awoke and shot his son, Matthew, in a Clarks Beach Motel room on July 21, 2012, Carpenter argued.
But Crandall indicated he was likely to allow the defense, and encouraged Carpenter to begin arranging for Leach to be evaluated by a prosecution expert.
Leach has already been evaluated by several defense experts, and they will likely be called to testify at trial.
Leach, who at the time was a part-time officer with the Perry Police Department, has said he believed his son was an intruder when he abruptly woke up and fired his duty weapon into the dark inside their motel room.
Prosecutors are also seeking additional records from the defense, including a list of all the prescribed medications Leach has taken since 1974 and all of the documents that a private defense investigator turned over to one of the psychiatrists who evaluated Leach.
Among the items the private investigator uncovered: Newspaper articles from Rochester regarding a 1975 incident when Leach shot and killed a teenage girl while on duty as a rookie officer, as well as news coverage of various home invasions from 2010 to 2012.
As far as the list of Leach’s medications, Leach’s attorney is questioning whether it’s necessary for prosecutors to know every medication Leach has ever taken since the 1970s. Crandall, however, said he wasn’t in a position to decide which medications were pertinent to the case.
“I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, so I don’t know what might or might not be important to someone examining the defendant,” Crandall said.