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Scales of JusticeThe New York State constitution charges the District Attorney's Office with the responsibility of prosecuting all crimes in Onondaga County, however, I believe in doing far more.

 

Not only must we punish the guilty, but we must protect the innocent; not only must we convict an abusing spouse, but make sure all citizens can live in a safe environment; and not only must we put violent predators behind bars, but make sure our children are prepared to live productive and crime free lives.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please contact my office at 315.435.2470, or e-mail us at daweb@ongov.net .

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"The office of the District Attorney is responsible for all criminal prosecutions in Onondaga County and works in conjunction with all the law enforcement organizations in the boundaries of the County to investigate any criminal felonies or misdemeanors."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

DISTRICT ATTORNEY

WILLIAM J. FITZPATRICK

County of Onondaga County Criminal Courthouse, 4th Floor

505 South State Street

Syracuse, New York 13202

315-435-2470

Fax: 315-435-3969

 

 

For Release: August 18, 2014

 

On May 31, 2014, defendant Susan Leach, a 70 year old mother and grandmother who has never been arrested, fired a single shot from her lawfully possessed .22 caliber rifle and struck and killed her neighbor’s mixed breed pit bull, Tucker.  The weapon was discharged by Ms. Leach as she was standing on her back deck and the shooting was witnessed by her 20 year old granddaughter and her 15 year old grandson.  The physical evidence indicates the weapon was fired in a downward angle such that if Ms. Leach had missed striking the dog, the projectile most likely would have landed harmlessly in her backyard.  By way of explanation to responding members of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), Ms. Leach indicated her reason for shooting the dog was that it was chasing her cat in a highly aggressive manner and in her judgment was about to cause an imminent threat to the life or safety of said cat.  Susan Leach was not charged by OCSO but was charged by an officer with the NYS DEC with Discharging a Firearm within 500 feet of an Occupied Dwelling.

 

Since this charge was filed, The District Attorney’s Office has received numerous e-mails demanding that Ms. Leach be arrested for a more serious animal cruelty charge.  This Office has also received numerous letters in support of Ms. Leach.  The District Attorney’s Office independent review of this matter reveals the following:

 

1)         The dog in question, Tucker, has an unfortunate history of acting aggressively towards           numerous neighbors.  These reports have been confirmed by a review of Elbridge Court            records as well as affidavits provided by said neighbors.  Tucker has also been spotted on   numerous occasions running through the neighborhood unleashed.

 

2)         The statute in question is designed to deter or punish offenders who foolishly endanger         public safety by discharging a firearm for recreational, hunting or target shooting          purposes in proximity to occupied dwellings.  The statute does not apply to someone          acting with a reasonable belief that such discharge of a weapon is necessary to protect the life of some person or some domesticated animal. 

 

 

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For Release: August 18, 2014

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3)         The only eye witnesses to the event, albeit interested family members, tell a coherent          story that is entirely consistent with Ms. Leach’s version of events.

 

4)         Exactly what Tucker the dog would have done had he caught up to the cat before being   shot is pure speculation.  Arguments that Ms. Leach should have done this or could have    done that are pure conjecture and are of no assistance in deciding how to handle this case.    What is clear is that Ms. Leach’s assertion that she feared imminent bodily injury or             death to her cat was an eminently reasonable conclusion based on all the evidence.

 

5)         For the reasons stated above, the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office declines to      prosecute Ms. Leach and will move to dismiss this charge in the interest of justice.

 

One final note.  This Office is acutely aware of the emotional response that animal cases generate.  This Office has a long and distinguished track record in aggressively pursuing legitimate cases of animal cruelty.  With that said, and having been made aware of a number of threats directed at Susan Leach, please be advised that any effort to harass, intimidate or in any way harm this woman or members of her family will be dealt with as harshly as the law permits.

 

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