The Fulton man who pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter for the 2009 death of a Camillus businessman is seeking early parole from prison on a medical release.
William LeVea, now 83 years old, was remanded to Livingston Correctional Facility after he entered a guilty plea in Cayuga County Court for his responsibility in the Nov. 20, 2009 DWI crash that killed Christopher Spack, 41, of Camillus, and seriously injured Bradley Leyburn, of Cato.
In a press release Thursday (April 10), Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelman said LeVea’s family is seeking an early parole from prison on a medical release, even though at the time he committed the crime LeVea was already suffering from cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and mild dementia.
Meanwhile, the DA and Spack’s family and friends are asking for members of the public to sign an online petition to prevent LeVea’s release.
“His family knew of his medical conditions, expressed concerns about him driving, but did nothing to stop him from driving the day Spack was killed,” Budelman said.
That day, LeVea’s family allowed him to allegedly drink wine to the point of intoxication, then drive away in his car with his dog, according to the DA.
“His daughter-in-law was concerned enough to call the police that afternoon to see if he had been arrested or in a crash. However, when a State Trooper asked her if she wanted to file a missing person report so that they could go look for LeVea, she declined,” Budelman said.
“Now, this same family wants the DOCCS and community to trust them to take care of LeVea and to protect the rest of us from this dangerous felon,” the DA noted.
Oswego County Today reported in January 2011 that while LeVea maintained he did not remember all of the events, he wanted to plead guilty because he believed that he would be found guilty at trial and wanted to avoid the possibility of a harsher sentence after trial.
Because of his lack of memory about the incident, at sentencing the defendant entered what is known as an “Alford plea.”
LeVea acknowledged that at trial the District Attorney could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on Nov. 20, 2009, at about 6:35 p.m., while driving westbound on Route 370 (east of Route 176) in the town of Cato, he recklessly and repeatedly rammed his car into the back of Spack’s small truck.
Further, that the last time Levea hit Spack’s truck they were driving at approximately 80 miles per hour.
The impact sent the truck spinning into oncoming traffic where the victim’s vehicle was struck by Leyburn’s Chevy Silverado.
Spack’s truck was ripped in half, he was ejected and died instantly from his injuries.
Leyburn suffered a serious ankle injury during the collision.
Recapping Levea’s final court appearance at sentencing and a deal satisfying a 15 count grand jury indictment, the DA said, “On March 2, 2011, LeVea was sentenced on his conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide, a class B felony, driving while intoxicated with a BAC of 0.16 percent and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree – for two rifles in the car as a convicted felon.”
He added, “The defendant waived his right to appeal from his conviction and sentence. LeVea received the negotiated, agreed upon indeterminate prison term of 6 – 18 years in prison. There were concurrent definite jail terms of one year on misdemeanor counts.”
According to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, LeVea’s first parole hearing was scheduled for this month.
The Spack family appeared before the parole board on Friday (April 11).
Levea is scheduled to appear before the parole board on or about April 21.
“We have learned that when he does appear, he will be told that DOCCS is adjourning the hearing until May 19,” Budelman said, “to give them time to collect documents to be submitted to the Parole Board.
The deadline of April 14 for submission of letters and objections to Levea’s release is not being extended, because of the volume of material being sent in, as well as letters sent to the public submission address in Albany.
After LeVea’s appearance, parole board members will make a decision whether to release LeVea or not.
“We have been advised that the decision will be issued by May 27,” the DA said.
He noted there were other compelling reasons to keep the twice convicted felon in prison.
“He has a long history of violent crimes. He was convicted in Oswego County in June 1968 … found guilty of assault second degree in a case where he struck a man in the head with a bar stool in a drunken bar brawl. That victim later died from complications associated with his injuries.”
“In 1953 the defendant was convicted of reckless driving and assault third in Fulton; assault third in Onondaga County. He was also convicted in 1953 of robbery second degree, grand larceny and assault second degree in a case where he and two co-defendants brutally beat a man and robbed him.”
More recently, in 2003, LeVea slammed into the back of a vehicle on Route 690 in Syracuse, when the vehicle’s driver stopped to assist another driver who was broken down in the road, according to the Cayuga County DA.
“LeVea seriously injured that driver,” Budelman said, “then ran up to her and yelled at her for being in the road. Like 2009, LeVea showed no concern whatsoever for the fact that she was seriously injured.”
The Fulton man was not charged in that incident, the DA said, “but it demonstrates his lack of concern for the welfare of others he hurts.”
According to Section 259-r of the Executive Law was first enacted in 1992 as a measure to allow non-violent felons who suffered from a fatal illness like cancer and who were expected to die within six months the chance to be released early on parole to a hospital or hospice care.
Budelman said the law provided that if the parolee was still alive in six months, the Board of Parole would have to review the medical situation and either extend the release or order the inmate returned to prison because they had recovered and were not, in fact, dying.
“Over the years, the law has expanded to include almost any inmate, other than those convicted of murder or sex offenses and the options for release have expanded to include home care as well as hospitalization or hospice end of life care,” the DA said.
Recent changes enacted in 2009 allowed for inmates with terminal illnesses to be paroled even though they were not near death.
“While victims have an opportunity to be heard in depositions given at a local parole office, they are denied the right to appear at the inmate’s actual parole hearing,” Budelman said. “Further, they are denied the details of the alleged terminal illness. Inmate’s privacy rights are given priority over the family of the victims.”
Penal Law 70.40(1) states that an inmate is eligible for parole after serving his or her minimum term.
Under certain circumstances, an inmate may be released prior to serving his or her minimum term.
These include: Shock incarceration, sentences of parole supervision at Willard Drug Treatment Campus, merit, medical parole and early parole to deportation.
The inmate usually appears before the parole board four months prior to his or her parole eligibility date.
The parole board may release the inmate or the board may hold him or her for a reappearance at a later date.
If an inmate is granted a parole release, he or she will be under parole supervision of some level until discharged by the NYS Division of Parole.
“We want to urge the public to support our efforts to keep this violent felon in prison,” Budelman said. “We have until April 14 to submit objections to his release.”
There is an on-line petition people can sign at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/william-levea-up-for
Those who wish to express their thoughts in a letter can write:
NYS Board of Parole, 1220 Washington Ave, Building 2, Albany, New York 12226-2050
People can Submit brief comments online using the form provided at: https://www.parole.ny.gov/letters.html
The DA notes that all objections sent in must have LeVea’s inmate number 11-B-0677.
In the 10 days since it was posted, the online petition garnered more than 2,800 signatures.
Comments included hundreds asking the board to consider the Spack family’s loss over his killer’s illness and keep LeVea in prison.
Numbered according to chronological entry were these thoughts:
2484. Jaymie Walter from Central Square, NY signed this petition on Apr 10, 2014.
“I am also a victim of William Levea’s…..On March 10, 2003, Mr Levea rear-ended my car while I was driving on Route 81. The accident I was in has left me permanently disabled…..I have had 4 spinal fusions so far…..1 on my lower back….and 3 on my neck. I will soon be scheduled for my 4th and what will be the last surgery on my neck…..due to it being fused from top to bottom……there is nothing left to do….I have suffered on a daily basis with pain…..and it is due to his lack of care for human life….I sign this petition not only for “The Spack Family”, but also for myself……”
1838. Patricia A Gallivan from Syracuse, NY signed this petition on Apr 7, 2014.
“Justice will not be served by releasing this man back to his family who could not supervise him in the first place. His rage no matter what the motivation caused damage that can never be undone.”
360. DianeA from Port Byron, NY signed this petition on Apr 4, 2014.
“The Department of Corrections has not determined that he is ill enough to move him to one of the Regional Medical Units, so how can Parole say that he is so ill that he is no longer a threat to society and/or that he is so sick he must be released ??”
359. mary w tone from marcellus, NY signed this petition on Apr 4, 2014.
“As a community member and tax payer, I AM STRONGLY OPPOSED TO THE RELEASE OF THIS PRISONER.”
97. Jonathan Ellis from Memphis, NY signed this petition on Apr 4, 2014.
“I am Chris’ brother and this man ripped him from my family and does not deserve to see the light of day again. We were unable to say goodbye to Chris, he and his family should not be allowed that right either. He needs to die in prison.”