DWI killer's parole hearing postponed

Bill Leaf / file photo

The family of a man killed in a drunk driving case five years ago is speaking out after the killer TMs parole hearing was delayed.

Matthew Benedict, who was sentenced to 6-12 years in prison for a fatal crash in 2006, expected to hear the court TMs ruling on his parole request Friday. The hearing has been postponed.

Benedict has been serving time in prison for the death of Bill Leaf. On January 8, 2006, Benedict crashed into Leaf TMs car while driving the wrong way on Interstate 81 after drinking at a local bar.

Leaf was a local radio reporter for 570 WSYR and filled in as a sports anchor for CBS 5.

At the time of the crash, authorities say Benedict TMs blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit. Benedict was driving without a license at the time because of prior drunk driving convictions.

Maria Leaf, the victim TMs sister, believes that that Benedict had an extensive criminal history before the fatal crash and that putting Benedict back on the road would be a danger to the Central New York community.

Earlier this week, Benedict went before a parole board to determine if he would be eligible for release early next year.

Maria Leaf sent the following letter to CNY Central:

It is with great frustration that I write to you to say I've just learned Matthew Benedict's parole hearing has been postponed. The Department of Corrections tells me it is due to a ~paperwork issue TM on his side. I have now been told he can go before the board at the end of October, November or December (although the state's website says 12/11). I have been instructed to call back in mid-October to find out if he'll have a hearing the week of October 24th.

This is despite the fact I was told repeatedly, and even as most recently as last week that the hearing was a go for this week. The state updated the Dept of Corrections website and didn't bother to tell me what was going on. A woman in the victim impact unit told me that it had JUST been updated to reflect that.

Due to the delay, any and all comments put on the Facebook page since my original deadline of last month will be printed and sent in. In the last week we've had dozens of people leave their views and now they'll be heard in Albany as well.

We will have a live interview with Maria Leaf tonight on NBC 3 and CBS 5.