Woman, 83, pleads guilty to manslaughter

Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:48 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

An 83-year-old Columbia woman pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her 86-year-old husband.

Marjorie Franklin Leslie entered the plea in Boone County Circuit Court in connection with the Nov. 14 shooting of James R. Leslie, her husband of 53 years. An autopsy revealed that James Leslie suffered from a form of dementia, possibly caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton set a sentencing date of July 12. Voluntary manslaughter carries a punishment of five to 15 years in prison. Leslie was released on her own recognizance after the hearing.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Crane recommended a five-year deferred prison sentence. Leslie’s attorneys, Josh Oxenhandler and Tom Davis, said they will request supervised probation for their client.

Leslie originally maintained that she shot her husband in self-defense after he attacked her with a knife. Prosecutors, however, did not believe the evidence gathered at the crime scene supported her statement, and one day after the shooting, Marjorie Leslie was charged with second-degree murder. She pleaded innocent to the murder charge at her Dec. 4 arraignment.

After consultation between Oxenhandler and Crane, prosecutors changed the charge Monday to voluntary manslaughter.

“It was appropriate under the factual scenario,” Crane said.

Hamilton has requested a pre-sentence investigation, which, Oxenhandler said, will consider the nature of the crime, the likelihood of a repeat crime, Marjorie Leslie’s age and ability to function and other factors.

“Her condition is as good as possible under the circumstances,” Oxenhandler said.

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