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Leonard to serve 2 years for '05 fatality

Hit-and-run claimed life of 13-year-old

February 18, 2009
A Crawford County man was sentenced Thursday for a hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy near Taswell in 2005.

Joseph T. Leonard, 31, Taswell, was sentenced to eight years in prison with six years suspended and two years to serve by Special Judge Larry Blanton after a plea agreement with the state. Upon release, he will be on probation for six years.

The crash occurred about 11:27 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2005, on S.R. 64 near the intersection with Patoka School Road. According to a Crawford County police report, it was believed that 13-year-old Travis Lee Meyer had been working on a small moped that night and had taken it for a short ride when he was struck by a vehicle.

Meyer, an eighth-grader at Crawford County Junior High School, was seriously injured and was taken by ambulance to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, where he died about 5 the following morning.

No vehicles were found at the scene, but police said Meyer was riding a small, red moped when he was struck. Debris from the moped was scattered from the scene and led police to believe the vehicle that collided with the moped likely continued east on S.R. 64 toward Taswell.

Officers from the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police and English Volunteer Fire Department searched the area for the moped and the vehicle they believed could have struck it. At 1:50 a.m., the moped was located on Allen Creek Road, about 2-1/2 miles from the crash site. Police were unsure if the moped was carried to that location while attached to another vehicle or was loaded and carried to that spot and dumped.

At 2:08 a.m., officers found a black 1999 Chevrolet Blazer with a damaged front end. The vehicle had been abandoned at a vacant house at the junction of state roads 64 and 145 near the Eckerty "Y," then-Sheriff Richard Scott indicated. Both the Blazer and moped were impounded by the Crawford County Sheriff's Depart-ment.

On the following Monday, Scott said the owner of the Blazer had been identified and police were investigating to determine if the owner was also the driver of the vehicle when the moped was struck.

The next day, Leonard turned himself in to authorities at the Crawford County Jail in English, where he was booked on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony. He was released minutes later after posting a $20,000 cash bond.

The case has dragged on for years as attorneys worked to reach an agreement that all parties, including the families involved, could agree on without a lengthy trial.

"This was a C felony, and that carries a maximum sentence of eight years," attorney John E. Colin, who served as special prosecutor in the case, said. "And the law provides that any portion of that can be suspended.

"In this case, (Leonard) didn't have a criminal history. But given the circumstances, and the fact that the parents of the victim agreed to the plea, I feel the sentence was appropriate."

"A case like this makes it so difficult — sometimes, there are no good answers — why bad things happen to good people," Blanton said Thursday at the sentencing.

"Everybody in this room wishes it didn't happen, that we could go back to the day before it happened."

"I accept your plea," the judge then told Leonard. "I believe you are remorseful. Sometimes we do stupid things without thinking about the impact it may have on the families involved. We all should live today like it may be our last one."

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    Leonard to serve 2 yrs
    February 26, 2009 | 08:46 AM

    That is not enough time to serve, he took a childs life. That child could have lived a lot longer, he wasn't able to have children or get married or even graduate school. This is not justice!

Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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