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Brother faces murder charges

May 17, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

A Halfway man charged in the slaying of his younger brother on Wednesday allegedly confessed to repeatedly shooting the victim, even as he ran away, according to charging documents.

The shooting followed an argument between the brothers over not having enough money for food or more drugs, the charging documents say.

Charles Leatherman, 33, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, in the shooting death of Ian Leatherman, 22, in their home at 11226 Marbern Rd. in Halfway. Charles Leatherman could face the death penalty if convicted. He is being held without bond at the Washington County Detention Center.

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According to the charging documents, Charles Leatherman told police he and his brother were both addicted to illegal drugs, and that sometime between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Wednesday they got into an argument because they didn't have enough money to buy food or more drugs.

During the argument Ian Leatherman got a rifle from his bedroom and threatened Charles Leatherman, but Charles Leatherman was able wrestle the gun away from his brother, charging documents say.

Ian Leatherman then got mad again, and began to "break things up in the hallway and his bedroom," the documents say.

Then, according to the charging documents, Charles Leatherman "stated he couldn't take it anymore and retrieved the rifle and shot Ian while he was standing in the doorway of his (Charlie's) bedroom. He stated Ian attempted to run to his own bedroom after he fired the first round and Mr. Leatherman stated he shot several more rounds at Ian while he was running away."

Police found Ian Leatherman dead on his bed, the documents state.

Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications received a call about the shooting at 9:22 p.m.

Joe Kroboth, director of the Department of Emergency Services, wouldn't confirm Charles Leatherman was the caller, but he said, "Our 911 dispatcher had him on the telephone for a lengthy period of time and helped coordinate his surrender to the Washington County Sheriff's deputies."

A neighbor of the Leathermans' said she thought she heard five or six gunshots around 6 p.m. Police have not said how many times Ian Leatherman was shot.

Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mark Knight said the shooting happened at least one hour before the 911 call was made.

Wednesday night was the most recent of several visits police have made to the Leathermans' in recent years.

According to Sheriff's Department records, on Sept. 10, 2001, Charles Leatherman called police about a small bag of marijuana and drug paraphernalia he found inside Ian Leatherman's room while he was cleaning it.

Charles Leatherman also called police on May 29, 2001, to ask for help dealing with Ian Leatherman who was drunk and high, according to department records.

On Dec. 17, 2000, Dennis Leatherman, the brothers' late father, called police because Ian Leatherman was apparently drunk and trying to fight with his father. Dennis Leatherman died in July 2001.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at the home that Dec. 17, they found Charles Leatherman sitting on top of a yelling and screaming Ian Leatherman, according to charging documents from that case.

Ian Leatherman, who was 20 at the time, appeared drunk and threatened the police, the charging documents say.

A police search of Ian Leatherman and his room turned up marijuana, drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and pills prescribed for the family dog, which Ian Leatherman told police he planned to sell in order to raise money so he could buy drugs for himself, according to the charging documents.

At that time, Ian Leatherman also told police that he was being treated for depression, the charging documents say.

Ian Leatherman was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession with intent to distribute a prescribed drug, and being intoxicated and endangering the safety of himself, his brother and his father, according to court records.

Court records show Ian Leatherman pleaded guilty to the possession of marijuana charge and spent 73 days in jail. The other charges were not prosecuted.

On Thursday, Charles Leatherman appeared in district court via video from the detention center.

Judge Ralph France told Leatherman the maximum penalty for first-degree murder is death, and the maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 30 years in prison.

France set Leatherman's preliminary hearing for June 12.

During a preliminary hearing the prosecution tries to convince a judge that enough evidence exists to warrant prosecution.

France ordered Leatherman to be held without bond.

A relative of Leatherman, who was in court Thursday, declined to comment.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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