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June 1, 2020

2/15/2020 7:30:00 AM
Liebscher pleads guilty to hit-and-run causing death
Sentencing set for April 20

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

A 53-year-old Sugar Camp man accused of fatally striking a motorcyclist on State Highway 17 last August and then fleeing the scene entered a guilty plea to one count of hit-and-run causing death Friday afternoon in Oneida County Circuit Court, pursuant to a plea agreement.

Jeffrey M. Liebscher was originally charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle in connection with the Aug. 28 accident, which occurred in front of his driveway on State Highway 17, that left Sean J. Holtslander, 23, of St. Germain dead, however that charge was dismissed in exchange for the guilty plea. A traffic ticket was also dismissed.

According to the criminal complaint, following the accident Liebscher hid his truck on his property and had his brother Brian, 55, take him to Three Lakes. It took over 11 hours before sheriff's detectives took him into custody. Liebscher appeared before Branch I judge Patrick O'Melia with his attorney Gary Cirilli for Friday's plea hearing.

In outlining the terms of the plea agreement, district attorney Michael Schiek said the state and defense were jointly requesting a pre-sentence investigation. In terms of a sentencing recommendation, the state will be bound by the recommendation of the PSI investigator, however the defense is free to argue for a shorter sentence.

O'Melia indicated he had intended to order a pre-sentence investigation.

"I know nothing about Mr. Liebscher," O'Melia said. "I've never met him, and I don't know anything about the other individuals involved here. I would like to have all that information before I proceed to sentencing."

He then scheduled the sentencing hearing for April 20.

According to the criminal complaint, Liebscher allegedly struck a motorcycle operated by Holtslander at approximately 10:15 p.m. Aug. 28 and fled the scene. The initial 9-1-1 call reporting the accident was received by the Oneida County Sheriff's Department at 10:23 p.m., according to the complaint.

According to the report of detective sergeant Chad Wanta, the Chevy Silverado Liebscher was allegedly operating was located about 2 1/2 hours later on family-owned property, but Liebscher was not in it. 

Liebscher was eventually located in Three Lakes over 11 hours after the crash. 

He made his initial court appearance Aug. 30 before Judge Michael Bloom. 

Before recusing himself from the case, Bloom commented that he knew Liebscher personally and referred to him as "a good man." He also set a $1,500 cash bond before his recusal.

The maximum sentence O'Melia can give Liebscher is 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 on the class D felony.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews

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