Pennsylvania man leading a 'double life' murdered wife and tossed her body into Lake Erie lake to be with his mistress
A 49-year-old Pennsylvania man who was convicted this past October in the shooting death of his wife in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Christopher Leclair was sentenced to an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole plus another three years and nine months to 17 years on charges of first-degree murder, as well as aggravated assault, tampering with physical evidence, abuse of a corpse, possession of an instrument of crime, firearms not to be carried without a license, and false reports.
According to People, presiding judge John Trucilla also ordered the 49-year-old to pay $705,974 in restitution to the US Coast Guard for their search efforts after he claimed his wife, 51-year-old Karen Leclair, had fallen overboard into Lake Erie on the day of her murder on June 10, 2017. She had, in fact, been shot in the head by Leclair, who then tied her with rope and weighed her down with an anchor before dumping her body into the lake. Her body would only be found after a three-week search, on July 4.
Handing down the sentence, Trucilla termed the murder as the "most calculated and sophisticated" he's ever seen. "There was almost a recognizable gasp in this community when this crime was committed," he was quoted saying. "The depravity and depths that you went to calculate this murder are unlike any this court has ever seen."
Leclair's lawyer, Bruce Sandmeyer, had previously tried to argue during the 49-year-old's trial that his client had thrown Karen overboard after she had killed herself because she was distraught over her husband's long-running on-again, off-again affair with Tracy Butler. He had even called a forensic pathology expert to testify that the 51-year-old's wounds were consistent with suicide. People reported that he continued that argument during Leclair's sentencing, insisting that Karen's death was a suicide.
But just like the previous time, when the prosecution had successfully refuted those claims and said the defence's argument that Karen had killed herself as "nonsense" and a "desperate lie" that was "completely inconsistent with any of the evidence," this time would be no different.
First Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz once again pointed to evidence that suggested Leclair had been planning to kill his wife for at least a decade, stating he finally went through with the plan after Butler pressured him to pick between his wife or her.
Questions were asked on why he didn't just leave her and divorce her instead of taking such a drastic step. "Rather than just leave her, this man decides to take her out to his boat and shoot her," Hirz said. "It’s chilling what he did that day." People reported that Sandmeyer is expected to appeal his client's sentence.