John Leck pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed Officer Brian Lorenzo

officer brian lorenzo john leck jr
John Leck Jr., left, pleaded guilty to a wrong-way DUI crash last year that killed Highway Patrol Officer Brian Lorenzo.
Credit: Philadelphia Police Department

A Levittown man on Tuesday pleaded guilty to the July 8, 2012, wrong-way DUI crash that killed Highway Patrol Officer Brian Lorenzo as he traveled home from work on Interstate 95.

John Leck Jr., 48, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and DUI in exchange for the District Attorney’s Office dropping additional charges of involuntary manslaughter and homicide by vehicle.

Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Coelho presented a wealth of evidence, including eyewitness testimony, crash reconstruction experts and Pennsylvania State Police dashboard camera footage, to prove Leck “acted with a conscious disregard for human life,” resulting in the death of Lorenzo, a 23-year force veteran and father of three.

She said Leck ignored multiple traffic signs when he drove his 2010 Audi the wrong way up the Cottman Avenue exit ramp and onto I-95 shortly before 3:15 a.m.

He continued speeding the wrong way on I-95 – traveling south in the northbound lanes – for about a half mile before slamming head-on into Lorenzo’s patrol motorcycle.

“The crash launched Officer Lorenzo up on the car causing him severe injuries, including his leg being severed from his body,” Coelho said.

The impact was so vicious that the soles of the officer’s boots were torn from his feet and his body landed 21 feet away.

His helmet was recovered 255 feet north of the scene.

Coelho said Leck made no attempt to slow down before the collision.

“In other words, the defendant just drove though the crash,” she said.

“He didn’t brake or take any other type of evasive maneuver before striking Officer Lorenzo.”

She added that even after witnesses told Leck he’d killed a police officer, he refused to get out of his car, which was on fire.

A receipt from a TGI Friday’s in Bensalem recovered from Leck showed that before getting into his car that night, he had imbibed three 22-ounce Coors Light beers, one 14-ounce beer and two shots of Pinnacle vodka.

A blood test taken 45 minutes after the crash revealed the man’s blood alcohol content to be .218.

Still, Leck did not accept a negotiated plea offered by the District Attorney’s Office, which would have meant 10 to 20 years’ incarceration.

He instead chose to leave sentencing up to the judge, and now faces a maximum possible penalty of 25 years and 3 months to 50 years and 6 months in jail.

Leck is next due in court Dec. 2 for sentencing.

“Other than bringing Brian back, this was the most positive outcome that could ever happen in this tragedy,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 president John McNesby said after the hearing.

“It saves the family a lot of anguish, a lot of stress of the trial and hopefully, Dec. 2, the judge will really throw the book at him.”

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey called the situation “a tragedy all the way around.”

“It’s all preventable,” he said. ”[Leck] is obviously intoxicated, driving the wrong way on a highway, kills Officer Lorenzo – if it hadn’t been Lorenzo, it would have been somebody else. It was just a tragic situation.”

He, too, was happy the family was spared a trial.

“This pain, it’ll never, ever leave,” he said.

“But at least once the guilty plea is in, sentencing is something you can kind of move on [from] because you don’t have this cloud hanging over everything with the impending trial and so forth, which has to be incredibly difficult.”

He said though the length of the prison term is up to the judge, “it needs to be substantial.”

“There is no sentence that you can give that will bring Officer Lorenzo back, unfortunately, but this individual should not go free anytime soon.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.