No freedom for drunk driver who killed reporter

Bill Leaf

The drunk driver who killed a local radio and television reporter will stay behind bars for now.

Matthew Benedict was denied parole according to the New York State Department of Correctional Services.

Benedict is currently serving a sentence of 6 to 12 years in prison for the deadly 2006 crash that killed Bill Leaf.

Leaf's sister Maria spoke with CNY Central by phone Friday morning, expressing her relief that Benedict will stay in prison.

"My family is pleased to hear that Matthew Benedict will remain in prison," Maria Leaf later said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Benedict was a danger before this crash and needs to pay his debt to society, which to us is the entire 12 years of his sentence."

Benedict was driving the wrong way on Interstate 81 after drinking at a local bar when he slammed head-on into Leaf's car.

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

Leaf was a local radio reporter for 570 WSYR and filled in as a sports anchor for CBS 5. He was just 25-years-old.

It has been an agonizing time for Leaf's family who still deal with the pain of his untimely death.

"While it's never an easy time for my family, we feel a comfort knowing Benedict will not be out on the streets anytime soon," Maria Leaf said.

Reaction to the parole board's decision has been pouring in on the Honor Bill Leaf Facebook page, dedicated to keeping the public informed about developments in the case.

"Thanks be to GOD! We rejoice with you!!!," Judith Gerlitz posted.

"Good! I hope he stays there for the whole 12 yrs!," Kathy Palladino wrote.

The earliest Benedict could go before the parole board is in September of 2013.

Do you agree with the parole board's decision? Should he serve the maximum 12 year sentence? Or should he be granted parole after a period of time? Leave your thoughts below.