The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein



Friday, December 30, 2005

Luebrecht Family Wants Treatment

OTTAWA — The family of the man who admitted to drowning his 13-month-old son wants treatment, not vengeance. Relatives of 36-year-old Michael G. Luebrecht don’t want to see him face a possible death penalty for his actions May 23 against Joel Michael Luebrecht, said the child’s mother and the suspect’s wife, Amy Luebrecht. “As Mike’s dad puts it, it’s not like he went out and harmed another family,” she said. “We are the victims here. He took Joel away from us. We are forgiving him. It’s not like the prosecutor has to seek vengeance on behalf of the victim.” Amy Luebrecht’s sister, Susan Darby, recently submitted a letter to the editor to a weekly newspaper in Putnam County on behalf of the family, asking Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers to drop the death penalty specification from the state’s case against Michael Luebrecht. “We’ve felt the prosecutor hasn’t been listening to our wishes,” Darby said. “He’s really not looking out for the victim’s family in this situation. None of us think Mike deserves the death penalty.” Michael Luebrecht admitted in a 911 call that he drowned his 13-month-old son in the bathtub of the family’s home at 140 W. First St., Fort Jennings, on May 23. If convicted after his trial begins Feb. 21, he could face the death penalty. He originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but changed his plea to not guilty on Nov. 3. Lammers said he met with the family early in the trial preparation process and understood their desires. He noted he felt uncomfortable speaking with the family without the presence of defense attorney William Kluge, who represents Michael Luebrecht. “I don’t know if it’d be appropriate to speak to my own personal views about this,” Lammers said. “I look at it as my job as an officer of the court and the state. I present the facts, and the trier of fact can make the determination. The grand jury decided the facts of what charges and specification should be put on it. It’s not necessarily my job to tell them what to do. That’s what the purpose of the grand jury was.” Lammers and Kluge both said they’d consider plea negotiations in the case but declined to discuss specifics. Amy Luebrecht said she was disappointed Lammers hadn’t talked with her before any of the pretrial proceedings and hadn’t responded in writing or by telephone to a letter she wrote last month asking to drop the death-penalty specification. Petitions are also circulating asking Lammers to drop the death-penalty request from the trial. Darby said Amy Luebrecht asked her to write the letter to the editor on her behalf, and Amy Luebrecht said she agreed with the letter’s sentiment. Kluge said the family unanimously supported dropping the death penalty request. “What they really want is him to get the help he needs,” Kluge said. Amy Luebrecht said the family immediately understood Michael Luebrecht’s actions didn’t match up with his personality. “Even though we were struggling with it, we forgave him since it was so out of character with him,” Amy Luebrecht said. “Not one person I’ve talked to said they would’ve expected that or were watching for that. Everybody, including his psychiatrist, counselor and our pastors, everyone he’s ever dealt with was totally blown away by this.” Darby noted the family learned more about Michael Luebrecht’s mental illness after the drowning incident and realized how out-of-character his actions had been. “After all this happened, we found out that he had a lot more problems than (Amy Luebrecht) knew, and because of the HIPPA law she was not notified,” Darby said. “It was left to Mike telling her that he had thoughts of hurting the boys, but he didn’t because he did not want to freak her out. No one ever thought he would act upon them.” Lammers said the family’s connection with both the suspect and victim makes it difficult to abide by their wishes.

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