This article was originally published on GoErie.com by Madeline O’Neill on January 7, 2019
Christopher S. Leclair is serving life in prison for murdering his wife on Lake Erie.
He’s fighting a different aspect of his sentence in court: the $700,000 restitution he was ordered to pay to the U.S. Coast Guard for the massive search that began when he falsely reported his wife had fallen overboard off his fishing vessel.
In a court filing, Leclair’s lawyer asked Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla to cancel the restitution because the Coast Guard’s claim was “an estimate and not the actual cost of the search and rescue operation.”
Trucilla ordered Leclair to pay a total of $705,974 for the 30-hour search for 51-year-old Karen Leclair. A jury found that Christopher Leclair shot his wife in the head while the couple was out on their fishing vessel, the Doris-M, on June 10, 2017.
He went back out on Lake Erie the next day and reported in a distress call that his wife had fallen overboard and gone missing, according to trial testimony.
According to a previous estimate provided by the Coast Guard, the amount included two two C-130 planes — one from Air Station Elizabeth City, in North Carolina, and the other from the Canadian armed forces — two Coast Guard helicopters from Air Station Detroit, two boats from the Erie Station and manpower costs for people involved in the search.
A boater spotted Karen Leclair’s body about 6 miles off the coast of Dunkirk, New York, on July 4, 2017. Her body had been tied with rope and weighted down with an anchor.