The Akron woman convicted of murder for neglecting her 17-month old son in the rat-infested basement of a meth house will spend at least 22 years in prison.
Heather Lerch, 21, cried silently during today's sentencing in Summit County Common Pleas Court. Lerch, at the advice of her attorney, Brian Pierce, did not speak during the hearing because she plans to appeal, but that did not stop Judge Tom Parker from offering some thoughts.
"It's impossible to imagine that in the last 24 hours of Patrick Lerch's life he didn't make the kinds of sounds that would tell any parent, 'I'm suffering, terribly,'" said Parker.
Lerch showed a slight reaction when a letter was read on behalf of the child's father, who listed milestones, such as sports, a first date, loss of a tooth and learning to drive that he'll never be able to share with his son. Lerch shook her head when the letter made a reference to her being self-centered.
Listen to more on Ronald Legg's sentencing:
Lerch's boyfriend, Randy Legg, 20, has already pleaded guilty to related charges. He will be sentenced next month.
His brother, Ronald Legg, 22, will spend at least 27 years in prison before he's first eligible for parole. Trial testimony indicated that Ronald Legg was the one that actually killed Patrick Lerch by placing a meth-filled coffee filter in the child's mouth, although there were others who had a role.
- - -
(Summit County Prosecutor - news release) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that Judge Thomas Parker sentenced Heather Lerch, 21, of St. Leger Avenue in Akron, Ronald Legg, 22, of Akron, and Allen Kostra, 25, of Akron, for their roles in the death of 17-month-old Patrick Lerch.
Heather Lerch was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 22 years. Ronald Legg was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 27 years. Kostra was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Patrick died February 26 after ingesting large amounts of methamphetamine. Heather Lerch and her son Patrick moved into the home of Heather’s boyfriend, Randy Legg, on St. Leger Avenue just days before Patrick died. Patrick was kept in the home’s rat-infested basement in the care of Ronald Legg and Allen Kostra, who were cooking and high on meth throughout Patrick’s last days.
“The monstrous actions of these three individuals are incomprehensible. They sat back and did nothing while an innocent child suffered,” said Prosecutor Walsh.
Kostra pleaded guilty on August 16 to Involuntary Manslaughter, Child Endangering and Illegal Manufacture of Drugs. A jury found Heather guilty of Murder, Involuntary Manslaughter and Child Endangering on August 27. On September 21, Ronald Legg pleaded guilty to Murder, Child Endangering and Illegal Manufacturing of Drugs. Randy Legg, 20, of St. Leger Avenue in Akron, pleaded guilty on September 21 to Involuntary Manslaughter and Illegal Possession of Chemicals to Manufacture Drugs.
Judge Parker will sentence Randy Legg on October 23 at 9:00 a.m.