The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 18, 2013

Defense attorney: Woman’s death an accident


Associated Press

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A defense attorney for a Blair County man charged with homicide in the 1999 death of his daughter-in-law said the woman’s death was accidental.

Prosecutors say 65-year-old Kenneth Leighty of Altoona led authorities in Huntingdon County to the remains of 23-year-old Sherry Leighty on his property last weekend.

Defense attorney Thomas Hooper told the Altoona Mirror that he believes the case will be resolved with a charge lower than first-degree murder.

Leighty has been jailed since Altoona police tried to question him last month about the woman’s disappearance, but police said he instead fought with officers and was arrested.  

His request for lower bail on aggravated assault and related charges was put on hold Friday due to the homicide charge.

State police and other investigators began searching the

150-acre tract Kenneth Leighty owns in Warriors Mark Township, Huntingdon County, on April 20, the day after he was jailed.

The woman’s husband – the defendant’s son, Aaron – told investigators he at first believed she might have run off to Maine with another man. Aaron Leighty said he began to doubt that when Sherry Leighty, whose divorce from him was finalized days after she was last seen, didn’t contact their children in subsequent weeks, months and years.

Huntingdon County District Attorney George Zanic said investigators have looked into whether Kenneth Leighty may have had a romantic interest in his daughter-in-law, but

wouldn’t say if that related to her death.

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