The Levittown man responsible for the 2010 highway death of Philadelphia police officer and Somerton resident Brian Lorenzo pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and drunk-driving charges on Tuesday.
John Leck, 48, also pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while DUI and will face a maximum of 25 to 50 years in state prison when Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina sentences him on Dec. 2. Leck did not accept a plea-bargain reportedly offered by the District Attorney’s Office, which would have recommended a sentence of 10 to 20 years to the judge.
Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Coelho recited details of the fiery crash during the plea hearing as a summary of the prosecution’s case against Leck. It happened at about 3:13 a.m. on July 8, 2012, in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 just south of the Cottman Avenue interchange.
Lorenzo, 48, a motorcycle instructor with the Highway Unit and a leader of its Drill Team, was in full uniform and riding his department-issued Harley-Davidson northbound on the way home after a shift. Leck had been drinking at T.G.I. Friday’s in Bensalem that night, where he bought at least six drinks and closed out his tab at 1:16 a.m. Investigators don’t know where he spent most of the next two hours. Leck has said he doesn’t remember how he ended up in the Northeast. According to the prosecutor, Leck drove his 2010 Audi luxury sedan eastbound on Cottman Avenue and used the I-95 off-ramp to access the highway in the wrong direction.
The crash happened moments after Lorenzo had motioned toward another northbound motorist, cautioning her about her speed. The forceful impact caused numerous traumatic injuries to the officer, who died at the scene. Leck also was hospitalized for nonlife-threatening injuries and arrested on suspicion of DUI. His blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.218 percent. The legal limit is 0.08.
Lorenzo was a married father of three. His wife has filed a civil suit against Leck and the restaurant where he had been drinking before the fatal crash. The restaurant has denied wrongdoing in the case. The parties have been in a pretrial discovery phase pending the outcome of the criminal case. ••