HOLLIDAYSBURG (AP) — A man charged in the death of his daughter-in-law more than a dozen years ago has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against state police troopers investigating the case.
Kenneth Leighty, 66, of Altoona appeared briefly Friday in Blair County Court to enter the plea to the lone charge and receive a sentence of three to 23 months in prison, The (Altoona) Mirror reported.
Leighty is charged in Huntingdon County in the death of Sherry Leighty, 23, who authorities believe was killed in September 1999. Police said Kenneth Leighty fought with troopers when they went to his Altoona home in April to question him about the woman’s death.
Huntingdon County Distinct Attorney George Zanic said Friday that Leighty will be arraigned on the homicide charges in September. He said he doesn’t think the slaying qualifies for the death penalty, but a decision on that issue hasn’t yet been made.
Prosecutors said Leighty led authorities in the county to the remains of the victim on his property. State police and other investigators began searching the 150-acre tract in Warriors Mark Township, about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, the day after he was jailed.
Sherry Leighty’s husband — the defendant’s son, Aaron — told investigators that he at first believed she might have run off to Maine with another man, but began to doubt that after she failed to contact their children in subsequent weeks, months and years. Officials said their divorce had been finalized days before she disappeared.