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MERCER COUNTY Illness postpones sentencing



Published: Thu, June 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The man admitted killing his girlfriend but said he didn't know why he did it.

MERCER, Pa. -- An illness in his attorney's family has resulted in a delay in sentencing for confessed murderer Leon Grande.

Grande, 60, of Shenango Township, was to appear before Judge Francis J. Fornelli in Mercer County Common Pleas Court today for sentencing on his guilty plea in the May 1, 2000, slaying of Deborra DeSantis, 47, in her Sharpsville home.

Police said Grande and DeSantis had been dating and that Grande killed her by banging her head against her bathroom wall and then drowning her in her bathtub.

Grande, in entering a guilty plea to third-degree murder April 20, said he remembered killing DeSantis, he just couldn't remember why.

James Epstein, Mercer County district attorney, said Grande's statement supports his claim to police that he "snapped out" at the time of the slaying.

Reported himself: It was Grande who called 911 moments after the slaying to report what he had done.

Grande had been charged with first-degree murder, but that count was dropped in exchange for the guilty plea, Epstein said, noting police and the victim's family were in agreement with the plea.

Epstein said today's sentencing was delayed until 9 a.m. June 14 because of an illness in the family of Attorney Donald Lewis, Grande's defense attorney.

Grande could face a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

However, because he has no previous criminal record, state sentencing guidelines allow the judge to impose a minimum sentence as low as six years in prison, Epstein said.




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