OTTAWA — Despite a motion to acquit filed yesterday morning and many emotional pleas from family and friends, Michael Luebrecht will continue to serve the original life sentence he received in 2006.
Michael Luebrecht pleaded guilty in 2006 to drowning his 13-month-old son, Joel, in a bathtub in 2005. He had served 12 years of a life sentence until Putnam County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Basinger had approved a withdrawal of that plea, presenting an affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication due to anti-depressant medication. Luebrecht was found guilty of aggravated murder Friday.
Basinger began the sentencing hear held yesterday at the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas by ruling on a motion for acquittal after verdict filed by Luebrecht’s defense attorney Danny Hill early yesterday morning, saying the medical community was not completely aware of the side effects of the medications Luebrecht had been on and that Luebrecht had sought help for his homicidal thoughts.
Basinger ruled there was no cause to vacate the guilty plea. He felt the jury had been attentive during the trial and had understood all evidence presented to them and had done their civic duty well.
After Basinger ruled on the motion, members of Luebrecht’s extended family and friends each took turns before the court and testified to Michael Luebrecht’s character before, during and after May 23, 2005, when Joel Luebrecht was murdered.
Amy Luebrecht, her sister, Susan Darby, Luebrecht’s stepmother, Sandra Luebrecht, pastors and other friends took the stand to tell the character how Luebrecht had been a good, loving and happy man until he was hospitalized five months before killing his son.
Michael Luebrecht took the stand one final time to ask the judge to reconsider his decision about the motion for acquittal or to be lenient in his sentencing. In a tearful statement, Luebrecht told the court he was in a much better place, spiritually and mentally, compared to where he had been in late 2004 and 2005. He told the court that, thanks to his new medications and state of mind, he could enjoy life again.
“I never understood people who enjoyed life before,” he said. “Before, I just thought life was about survival.”
Luebrecht did not mention his son.
Despite the character witnesses and Luebrecht’s plea to grant the motion to vacate the guilty verdict, Basinger sentenced Luebrecht to serve out the rest of his life sentence with eligibility for parole after 20 years with credit for the 12 years already served.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.