Openings slated in homicide trial in woman’s Lake Erie death

October 8, 2018

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Opening statements are slated Tuesday in the homicide trial of a man accused of shooting his wife and tossing her into Lake Erie and then reporting she’d accidentally fallen overboard from his commercial fishing boat.

The prosecution and defense selected a jury Monday for the Erie County trial of 49-year-old Christopher Leclair, the Erie Times-News reported .

Prosecutors said the defendant reported Karen Leclair, 51, missing in June 2017 but dock surveillance images showed the two leaving and him returning alone. Police said he returned to the vessel the next day and went out on the lake again, where he put out a distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard saying she had apparently fallen overboard while he wasn’t looking.

A fisherman found Karen Leclair’s body in July a few miles from Dunkirk, New York, which is about 50 miles northeast of Erie, Pennsylvania, along the lake’s southern shoreline. State police said the body was bound with nylon fishing rope, the type used to secure anchors, and an anchor was tied to the upper torso. An autopsy concluded that she had been shot in the head.

Prosecutors are seeking a first-degree murder conviction as well as aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, evidence tampering and false reports convictions.

Defense attorney Bruce Sandmeyer had sought to have the trial moved because of extensive news coverage and also wanted a witness barred from testifying about alleged statements by his client about life insurance. The judge rejected his bid to bar use of some photographs of the victim’s body.


Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com

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