9/1/2019 8:30:00 PM DA: Liebscher waited 11 hours after fatal crash to contact authorities Brother accused of providing false information
Jamie Taylor and Heather Schaefer of the River News
A 14-page criminal complaint filed Friday in Oneida County Circuit Court offers a first look at the state's case against Jeffrey M. Liebscher, a 53-year-old Sugar Camp man accused of striking a motorcyclist on State Highway 17 Aug. 28 and leaving the scene.
The motorcyclist, Sean J. Holtslander, 23, of St. Germain was killed.
Liebscher made his initial appearance before Branch II judge Michael Bloom Friday afternoon on charges of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and hit and run resulting in death.
According to the criminal complaint, Liebscher allegedly struck the 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 a report authored by detective sergeant Chad Wanta, the Chevy Silverado
Liebscher was allegedly operating was located about 2 ½ hours later, but Liebscher was not in it. Further investigation by detectives revealed that the truck, which was damaged, was located on a roadway that splits, with one fork going to Liebscher's mother's house and the other to Liebscher's residence.
While other detectives started the paperwork for search warrants for the vehicle and both residences, Wanta and other officers went to Liebscher's residence, but nobody was there, the report states.
This set off an hours-long effort by law enforcement to make contact with Liebscher and learn more about his movements during the evening of Aug. 28. As part of the investigation, law enforcement made contact with a bartender who served Liebscher a drink and takeout food at a local establishment that evening.
Officers also made contact with Liebscher's mother and his brother, Brian.
According to a press release issued Saturday by sheriff's captain Terri Hook, Brian Liebscher has since been arrested on suspicion of obstructing law enforcement in connection with this case.
"When contacted on August 29, 2019 in the early morning hours, Brian did not report to law enforcement that Jeffrey had contacted Brian after the accident and that Brian had driven Jeffrey to Three Lakes after the accident," the release states.
Brian Liebscher is expected to make his initial court appearance Tuesday.
After police met with Brian Liebscher, Jeffrey Liebscher called 9-1-1 to advise that his brother had contacted him to let him know police wanted to speak with him.
Liebscher was later located on a dock at a residence in Three Lakes. He invited officers into the residence to discuss the accident. Initially, he advised that he had been at the residence in Three Lakes since approximately 10 p.m. Aug. 28.
He then summarized his movements during the evening of Aug. 28, which included a stop at a friend's home where he sat around a campfire and consumed half of a mixed drink containing whiskey, according to the complaint.
After Liebscher finished his recitation of events, Wanta advised him that his story did not match up with other evidence collected and asked him if he wanted to correct any of the information he had provided.
At that point, Liebscher broke down and admitted to striking the motorcyclist, the complaint states.
"Jeffrey stated that after striking the motorcycle, he exited his vehicle and observed the operator on the ground and knew the individual was dead," the complaint states. "Jeffrey stated he panicked and didn't know what to do. Jeffrey stated he knew he was not impaired from consuming alcohol, but knew he had a couple of glasses of wine as well as half a glass of the mixed drink."
He went on to explain that he parked his vehicle on the family property and made contact with his brother, Brian. According to Jeffrey, the two went to the residence of Jeffrey's son for a brief period of time before Brian drove Jeffrey to the residence in Three Lakes, the complaint states.
Upset over the accident, Jeffrey told law enforcement he drank more alcohol while at the Three Lakes residence.
After he made this statement, Liebscher was taken into police custody.
At Friday's initial appearance, Oneida County district attorney Michael Schiek noted that approximately 11 hours elapsed between when the accident occurred and when Liebscher called 9-1-1. As a result, the state lost the ability to accurately determine what Liebscher's blood alcohol level was at the time of the accident, he said.
He then argued for a "moderate to substantial cash bond."
Liebscher was not represented by counsel Friday but noted he is in the process of retaining attorney Gary Cirilli.
He told the court he is a local homeowner and father for four children. He insisted that he would not abscond.
"I'm not going to go anywhere," he said. "Obviously, I should have stayed there in the beginning but I'm not going anywhere."
Bloom stated he has "a familiarity" with Liebscher and referred to him as a "relatively visible and well-known member of the Sugar Camp community". He then announced he would be recusing himself from the case but before he did that he set bond at $1,500 cash and offered an unsolicited remark on the defendant's character.
"I know him to be a good man," the judge said.
As a new judge will have to be appointed, Liebscher's next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.
If convicted of both charges, he faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019
Article comment by:
My heart goes out to the Holtslander family. I also wondered how Judge Bloom could have even said "I know him to be a good man". A good man doesn't leave someone on the highway dying. Yes, Mr. Liebscher said he was dead, but that is only his word. And even if he was, you call for help not go into hiding. And my thought is, why was he hiding? He said he wasn't drunk so if he would have called 911 wouldn't it just have been a terrible accident. He left the scene for some reason. Shame on Judge Bloom for his comment and yes Mr. Liebscher should have to serve time for his actions.
Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Article comment by:
I am the other of Sean Holtslander, and I am appalled that Liebscher was released on $1500 bond! I doubt that Liebscher will spend any time in prison. He seems to have friends in high places. I wonder if Judge Bloom would think Jeffrey Liebscher a "Good man", if it had been HIS son left dead in the road? Liebscher is a disgrace and a coward and so is anyone who covered for him. I hope he sees my son s mangled body everytime he looks in the mirror. I hope Judge Bloom understands what my family os going though, but I doubt he cares.
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