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Levea Survived Murder Charge Once Before After A Deadly Fight

A montage of headlines from the 1968 murder trial, found on FultonHistory.com, along with a picture of Levea and the orange car he's accused of having used to ram other drivers.
A montage of headlines from the 1968 murder trial, found on FultonHistory.com, along with a picture of Levea and the orange car he's accused of having used to ram other drivers.

This isn’t the first time that William Levea has been charged with murder.

The 79 year old Fulton man fought a murder charge more than 40 years ago and was found not guilty.

Levea is accused of murder and is sitting in jail in Cayuga County without bail for allegedly ramming his car into the vehicle of a man he did not know. The man’s truck eventually went out of control along Route 370 near Cato and slammed into another car. The crash killed the truck’s driver, Christopher Spack. Police think Levea may have rammed another vehicle not long before that.

On December 23, 1966, police say he and James Egan got into a fight at Lakeview Lanes in Fulton. Police allege Levea hit Egan with a bardstool or chair and then kicked him in the neck or head. Egan died.

A year and a half later, Levea’s trial began in Oswego County Court in Pulaski before Judge Don H. Stacy. It took two pools of 50 jurors each to seat a jury. District Attorney John Murray was opposed by two top lawyers — Eugene F. Sullivan, Jr., member of a prominent local family, and Paul Shanahan. Shanahan would gain notoriety years later for defending accused killer Cynthia Pugh in Onondaga County.

The jury ultimately found Levea not guilty of murder but guilty of felony assault. He was sentenced to probation. The judge apparently rejected the DA’s argument that Levea was a second offender, deserving of a harsh sentence. Levea had been sentenced to Attica State Prison after a conviction on three counts in February, 1964. A newspaper account of the time does not mention what the three offenses were.

After the murder trial ended, Egan’s widow immediately sued the bowling alley on behalf of the couple’s five eleven children, according to newspaper clippings archived at FultonHistory.com.

(See correction on the number of children in the comments, below.  We are happy to correct the record.  News accounts of the lawsuit listed only five children as plaintiffs, along with their mother.)

8 Comments

  1. TL:

    I’d be happy to add to or change the story if you have facts.

    Here’s what the story says, in bullet-point format:

    Levea was accused of a murder that happened Dec. 23, 1968 at Lakeview Lanes in Fulton;

    Police allege Levea hit Egan with a barstool and kicked him in the head or neck. (Please note the careful wording of this sentence. It does not say that that is exactly what happened — it says only what police believed at the time and what was tried in court.)

    Egan died.

    The jury trial began nearly a year and a half later in Pulaski.

    Levea was found not guilty of murder but guilty of assault.

    He was sentenced to probation.

    Levea had served a prison term for an earlier crime, which is unspecified.

    If something’s wrong here, please say so. We’ll check and fix the record if that’s the case.

    -Dave Bullard/Managing Editor

  2. James Egan is my Grandfather.He was hit with a barstool and kicked repeatedly by Louie Lavea at the Lake Veiw Lanes bowling alley. My grandfather stepped in to protect Mr.Lavea’s wife who was about to be hit over the head by her husband with the same barstool he used to murder James Egan. My Grandfather died days later in the hospital due to complications.He did not provoke the fight like other websites are saying he was just trying to be a good samartan. He was the father of 11 children not 5. Grandfather to 29 ,and countless Great Grandchildren.Most of whom he never met. My family is very upset that my grandparents name are being dragged into this because this sick man was never properly convicted. Just wish the media if they are going to bring my family into this that they would get it right.Maybe that means contacting a family member for correct information.Thank You, James Egan’s family

  3. I am happy to correct the record on the number of children. The news accounts of the lawsuit listed only five children as plaintiffs, along with their mother. Thank you for the information.

    There is no reason to doubt your account of what happened that night. I decided to stick to a very bare-bones list of the facts for two reasons: The records available to me of what happened are themselves bare-bones, and though the public needs to know about Mr. Levea’s past incidents, the extra detail is not necessary to help people understand the point that this is not Mr. Levea’s first brush with the law or with a murder charge. As far as I can tell from the records available to me and from your account, what we wrote was factual — there was a fight; police allege Mr. Levea hit Mr. Egan with a barstool and kicked him; Mr. Egan died; Mr. Levea was found not guilty of murder and was given probation for assault; it wasn’t his first conviction.

    Even if the extra details were available, I probably would not have used them. We try to be as sensitive as we can to the families of victims of crime (and to the uninvolved families of criminal suspects) because we know that what we write can make things harder for them. Time does not heal all wounds. In fact, it’s our policy to leave families alone unless they reach out to us. It leaves us open to criticism, but so does contacting families. It’s a no-win situation, so we err on the side of caution.

    If you’d like to talk further, send me a note at [email protected] and tell me how to contact you. I will be glad to do that, even if what you want to do is yell at me.

    On the subject of what is appearing, mostly in reader comments, on other websites: Other websites allow anyone who’s registered to leave a comment, and they can say almost anything and not have the comment removed. We approve all comments before they’re posted and we’ve already denied a couple of comments on this story because they jump to some conclusions or break our one rule of not making harsh comments about specific individuals. This happens several times a week, but no one sees it because it’s done before you see it.

    We do not plan to write in detail about this subject again, as once was enough to tell the public what they should know. It’s likely that the prior murder charge will be mentioned, but not as a main feature of any story unless something unusual happens.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful comment and your correction of the record.

    My sincere sympathies to you and your family,
    Dave Bullard
    Managing Editor/Co-owner

  4. I am not trying to be disrepectful but the Egan family should not have to relive this. The fact of the story is the Death of a young man seems to be forgotten here. He ran a 41 year old man off road. some holiday seasonfor that family

  5. I would first like to send my condolences to all the families’ involved. Second I would like to congratulate the James Egan Family for standing up for their rights as their case is not relevant to this new one as Mr. Levea was not charged with murder. Yes Mr. Levea’s past will be relevant in court as prosecutors will try to establish a consistent violent history however that is all they can use it for. Let it also be noted to the Managing Editor that not only is it inappropriate to be collecting the “Facts” with the James Egan Family or any one else via comments on this website but it is also very unprofessional.

  6. Personally ,contrary to what others comments are,I believe you did do the right thing by exposing details of Mr.Levea’s prior charges.Anyone who has that type of uncontrollable temper needs to be accountable for their actions.It just pains me to think of how it affects Mr.Spack’s famliy forever.I hope Mr.Levea’s family does not try to defend his action in any way, shape or form.It was unexcusable and hopefully he will be punished to the fullest extent for this.

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