Attorneys Argue $700,000 Restitution in Lake Erie Murder Case
A judge must now decide if the commercial fisherman who murdered his wife on Lake Erie should pay the U.S. Coast Guard $700,000 in restitution.
Christopher Leclair, 49, is currently serving life in prison plus 17 years, for killing his 51-year-old wife Karen Leclair.
A jury convicted Christopher Leclair of shooting his wife in the head, tying her to an anchor, and tossing her into Lake Erie off of their commercial fishing vessel the Doris M.
The day after Karen Leclair disappeared in June of 2017, prosecutors say Christopher Leclair filed a false report to the U.S. Coast Guard, which led to a massive two day search of Lake Erie for Karen's body, which washed up several weeks later in Dunkirk, New York.
At his sentencing, President Judge John Trucilla ordered Christopher Leclair to pay the U.S. Coast Guard nearly $706,000 to cover the cost of the search.
The Commonwealth argues that Leclair should pay for the search, which was the result of his false distress call.
However, Leclair's attorney Bruce Sandmeyer argues that the U.S. Coast Guard does not qualify as a victim under law.
"It was our position that first of all, that restitution amount really was not very clear,” said Sandmeyer. “It was based on regulation and really based on an estimate.”
Sandmeyer also argues that military personnel are paid a monthly salary, regardless of the work they perform.
“I'm also former military myself, and I understand some of the military issues involved here,” said Sandmeyer. “That's why I went ahead and filed that motion."
Both sides now have two weeks to build their cases.
Judge Trucilla will make a ruling at a later date.