Wife, 83, charged in killing

Suspect released on the condition she gets a mental evaluation.
Sunday, November 16, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:14 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The scene at 10 a.m. on Iris Drive was one of tranquillity Saturday morning, contrasting sharply to the bustle of activity nearly 24 hours earlier when a Columbia man was shot to death in his home. Sgt. Stephen Monticelli of the Columbia Police Department said Marjorie F. Leslie, 83, called 9-1-1 at 8:56 a.m. on Friday, stating that she had shot her husband, James R. Leslie, 86, after he tried to attack her with a knife.

When officers arrived at the 1900 block of Iris Drive, they found James Leslie with two gunshot wounds in his upper torso from a .38-caliber revolver, police said. Police recovered the gun from the home and arrested Marjorie Leslie, Monticelli said.

Monticelli said emergency medical technicians thought they had a pulse and attempted to resuscitate James Leslie until they arrived at University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

When investigators examined the crime scene, the evidence was inconsistent with Marjorie Leslie’s statements to authorities, Monticelli said. However, he said he could not go into details about the physical evidence.

Monticelli said Marjorie Leslie told investigators at the police department that she had shot her husband, but he declined to relay what she said.

Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane filed charges of second degree murder against Marjorie Leslie on Friday afternoon, according to a press release from the police department. She was released from custody on her own recognizance with the condition that she be evaluated at the Mid-Missouri Mental Health Center, according to the case file.

Officials at the center would not comment Saturday about whether Marjorie Leslie had been released.

Bob King, a neighbor who lives across the street from the Leslies, said he was in his basement looking for clock parts on the Internet for his business when he heard ambulance sirens.

He arrived at his door and saw emergency vehicles at the Leslies’ house.

“The first thing I thought was that Jim had a heart attack,” King said.

Then he said a detective came to his door to see what he knew about the situation with the Leslies.

“I didn’t think anything like (a murder had happened) until the detective was knocking on my door asking what I knew,” he said.

About 11 a.m. Saturday two cars arrived at the Leslies’ residence. Two men and a woman entered the home while another woman remained in the car looking downward.When asked his name, one of the men said the group had “nothing to say right now.” Neighbors related their experiences with the Leslies.

Although Donna Hoffman said she didn’t know the Leslies well, she would see Marjorie Leslie while taking walks and would exchange greetings.

Bob King and his wife, Peggy, said the Leslies had been living in the subdivision for at least 25 years.

“We weren’t close, but we’d wave when we were out working in the yard,” Bob King said.

He said he had no idea that James Leslie had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.”I had noticed that for five or six years his health was deteriorating,” Bob King said.

Peggy King said that she wishes they would have known more about the Leslies’ battle with James Leslie’s Alzheimer’s disease.

“She was a proud woman,” Peggy King said. “She wouldn’t go say that she needed help. (This incident) is just another statement about how devastating Alzheimer’s can be and the toll it takes on caregivers.”

The Kings said Marjorie Leslie is a wonderful person and say they still would trust her implicitly.

“There’s no way she would be a menace to the neighborhood,” Bob King said. “I’d trust her with a hand grenade.”

In fact, he said Marjorie Leslie would still be welcome in their home.

“She definitely has my support,” he said. “For Pete’s sake, she’d be welcome to stay here any time she wants, and I wouldn’t be a bit worried.”

With regard to the charges and the discrepancy between Marjorie Leslie’s statement and the evidence, Bob King said, “Evidently there are some questions there. Hopefully they can clear these questions up and drop these charges.”

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