Leech waives hearing due to mental health

September 6, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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Edwin Leech, 43, waived his hearing for mental health reasons after being charged with making terroristic threats at Victory Family Church on Route 19 on Aug. 21.

CRANBERRY TWP — Edwin G. Leech, 43, of Zelienople waived his hearing Friday for reasons of mental health after being charged with terroristic threats and associated charges Aug. 21.

Leech was charged following comments he allegedly made at Victory Family Church along Route 19 during a 6 a.m. prayer meeting Aug. 21. According to police documents, Leech sat away from other meeting attendants and questioned the speaker. He allegedly made a statement about being the “second messiah.”

“This is how mass shootings happen, I have mental problems,” Leech said, according to the affidavit.

The church was placed on lockdown following the incident.

Leech and his attorney Michael DeRiso appeared before District Judge David Kovach Friday morning. They asked that Leech’s hearing be waived after citing the state of his mental health at the time of the incident.

Kovach supported the move.

“I want you to get better,” Kovach said.

“I feel a lot better,” Leech said.

Leech praised the officials — including Kovach — involved with his case who have provided resources to improve his mental health.

“I really appreciate your help,” Leech said. “We’re going in the right direction.”

“I think you’re going to get better,” Kovach said.

After leaving the district judge’s office, Leech said he became upset after hearing the church’s interpretation of Scripture. Leech said the interpretation was very different from “true” Scripture.

Leech alleged a church security officer who didn’t properly identify himself also pushed him around during the incident.

The case now moves to the Court of Common Pleas.

Leech’s bond is increased to $100,000 from $50,000. Leech can either pay the bond or go directly to a mental health facility for inpatient treatment. In the meantime, he will stay at Butler County Prison.

Leech is charged with terroristic threats causing the evacuation of a building, a third-degree felony; disorderly conduct, a third-degree misdemeanor; and defiant trespass, a third-degree misdemeanor.

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