Leslie gets probation for killing husband

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:15 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

An 83-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to five years’ supervised probation for fatally shooting her husband of 53 years in November.

Marjorie Leslie appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter. Phil Leslie, Marjorie’s son, took the stand to testify on his mother’s behalf, saying it was the “sincere belief and hope of my entire family” that his mother should be granted probation. He said his father would have wanted probation for his mother.

James Leslie died Nov. 14 at age 86 from two gunshot wounds to the chest. Marjorie Leslie was arrested that day and charged with second-degree murder, which was later amended in a plea agreement to voluntary manslaughter. Josh Oxenhandler, Leslie’s attorney, said after the hearing that an autopsy revealed that James Leslie suffered from dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s claims more victims than just the person diagnosed,” Oxenhandler said in court.

After hearing Phil Leslie and Oxenhandler speak, Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton called Marjorie Leslie forward. He followed the recommendation of Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Crane in giving Leslie a five-year suspended prison sentence, during which time she will be on supervised probation. The conditions of her probation say she must continue counseling until released by her psychologist and she may not own or possess firearms.

Oxenhandler said after the hearing that Leslie and her family were pleased with the case’s resolution.

He said James Leslie, a former minor-league baseball player and model train enthusiast, suffered from a loss of context and short-term memory, and his condition had been growing increasingly worse at the time of his death. Marjorie Leslie told police he came at her with a knife on that day in November, prompting her to shoot him.

“I’m fairly certain that everyone who looked at the case, be they police, the judicial system, the prosecution or the media, agreed that this was a tragedy,” Oxenhandler said.

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