Guilty plea in fatal drunk driving crash

John Leck pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the accident that killed Officer Brian Lorenzo in 2010.

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. ••

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