Man seeks dismissal of charges in wife's Lake Erie death

A man accused of shooting his wife and tossing her into Lake Erie and then reporting she'd accidentally fallen overboard from his commercial fishing boat is seeking dismissal of the criminal charges against him.

Christopher LeClair argues that the Erie County charges should be dismissed because it's unclear whether the homicide occurred in Pennsylvania, the Erie Times-News reported .

Defense attorney Bruce Sandmeyer said in a court filing Thursday that the body of the victim washed up on the shores of Lake Erie in New York state so "the commonwealth has not established that an offense has occurred in Pennsylvania."

Sandmeyer also argues that if the case proceeds it should be moved out of the county because of heavy news coverage that "prevents the defendant from even the possibility of securing a fair and impartial jury from Erie County or northwest Pennsylvania."

Erie County President Judge John Trucilla ordered prosecutors to respond within 10 days, after which a hearing is likely.

Prosecutors say Leclair reported his wife, Karen Leclair, missing on June 11 but dock surveillance images showed the two leaving and him returning alone. Authorities say her body was found in July with an anchor attached and an autopsy concluded she had been shot in the head.

A state police investigator testified at a preliminary hearing that U.S. Border Patrol radar determined that Leclair's boat never traveled more than 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the Lake Erie shoreline off Presque Isle on June 10 and 11.

Leclair is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, evidence tampering and false reports. Prosecutors say they will seek a first-degree murder conviction.


Information from: Erie Times-News,