(photo added 1:48 pm – Pam Leach talking with the media outside the courtroom after the plea hearing, 17-year-old son Joey at her side; husband Jeff also was in the courtroom)
Last night, we published the story (read it here) of Pam and Jeff Leach of West Seattle, as they faced the end of a 16-month road through the legal system that started with the murder of Pam’s brother Benny Reside (right) at Cal-Mor Circle, and is ending in a King County Superior Court courtroom this afternoon. I am in that courtroom, where Brian S. Walsh has just pleaded – as expected – guilty to the reduced charge of second-degree murder, and the judge has accepted the plea. (Several citywide media representatives are here too, and the Leaches are in the courtroom as they said they would be.) He is to be sentenced in October. 1:49 PM UPDATE: The deal signed by Walsh notes that the prosecution requests a sentence at the high end, 220 months, while the defendant agrees to ask for no less than the midrange of 170 months. An assault charge stemming from the beating of a witness in the case has been dropped as part of the deal. (WRT the citywide coverage, by the way, you’ll see a TV report tonight on KIRO.) Will add more quotes in a bit; leaving the courthouse now. 4:40 PM UPDATE: Added more details from the courthouse:
Walsh (left) had nothing to say in the short hearing except “yes ma’am” and “no ma-am” as Judge Nicole Macinnes asked questions to ensure he understood what he was agreeing to.
In the hallway after the hearing, as reporters and photographers gathered around, Pam Leach said, “I’m glad that Brian knows that we all know what he did. It was hard to see him … I tried to get him to look at me [but he didn’t] … He took someone very precious from me, and I am not going to let people forget.”
As she had said in our interview with her and husband Jeff yesterday, she acknowledged plea-bargaining to a lesser charge wasn’t optimal, but: “I can live with this … he won’t be able to hurt anybody else; he’ll be away for a long time. In my mind, it’s first-degree murder.”
The sentencing hearing is set for 2:45 pm October 17th. Meantime, court files indicate that one of the other two 2007 West Seattle murder cases is now resolved; we are researching that for an upcoming report.