Guilty plea in 2 West Monroe deaths

Convicted killer Mathew LeBoeuf

OSWEGO — The Central Square man accused of killing two acquaintances in a September 2018 incident in the town of West Monroe pleaded guilty Thursday in Oswego County Court and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.

Mathew LeBoeuf — the man charged in connection to the deaths of 42-year-old Robert Diffin and 59-year-old Michael Shane — appeared before Judge Walter Hafner Jr. in county court Thursday morning. The 34-year-old LeBoeuf pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony, and admitted to recklessly causing the deaths of Diffin and Shane.

As part of a plea deal agreed to and accepted Thursday, LeBoeuf was sentenced to five- to 10-years in state prison on each of the manslaughter counts, with the sentences to run consecutively. He will serve at least 10 years and no more than 20 years for the crimes.

Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes said “no sentence is ever sufficient when two lives are lost,” but given the involvement of drugs and LeBoeuf’s history of mental illness the result represents a reasonable disposition.

“That’s as close to justice as we can get in this case,” Oakes said following Thursday’s sentencing.

Oakes said Thursday prosecutors sought the plea deal in part due to state criminal justice reforms that could have allowed LeBoeuf to be released from prison, but also pointed to some uncertainties in the case and the court’s decision to suppress certain statements LeBoeuf made while in custody.

“The new bail law absolutely played an important role in (Thursday’s) decision,” Oakes said.

LeBoeuf’s crimes stem from a violent September 2018 incident at 347 Breckheimer Rd. in West Monroe that ultimately led to the deaths of Diffin and Shane.

Thursday in court, LeBoeuf, represented by attorneys Mary Felasco and Paul Carey, said the Sept. 10 incident started when he was in another room and “heard a commotion.” LeBoeuf told the court when he entered the room to investigate, Diffin and Shane were fighting and one had a knife.

LeBoeuf said he “grabbed a table leg and swung wildly in both directions” and “blindly” swung object several times, causing the death of both men.

Members of the victims’ families spoke at the sentencing, including Diffin’s sister Amy LaClair, who said it hurts to hear LeBoeuf continue to say he doesn’t know why the two men were killed but there was some satisfaction in his admission that he caused both the deaths.

“You viciously killed them,” LaClair said. “You personally knew my brother’s son and knew that you were taking a father away from a seven-year-old boy. The past year and a half has been so hard and I’m glad today that it’s over with. I hope that you spend the rest of your life in prison.”

In response to LaClair’s search for a reason why LeBoeuf committed the crimes, Hafner said a large portion of the people who end up in county court suffer from drug and alcohol addiction or mental health problems.

“When you put both of them together, as apparently Mr. LeBoeuf has, this is what happens,” Hafner said.

LaClair was one of about a dozen supporters of the victims who attended court hearings throughout the past year, often wearing green “Justice for Mike and Bobby” shirts.

Oakes said he met with the victims’ families earlier this week and spoke about the judges decision to suppress several statements LeBoeuf made to investigators while in police custody. Oakes said the families’ primary concern was that LeBoeuf would not be released from custody, and the families — who had earlier opposed a similar plea deal — appeared to understand the plea was a reasonable outcome.

Initially charged by police with two counts of second-degree murder following the deaths of Diffin and 59-year-old Michael Shane, LeBoeuf was indicted by a grand jury earlier this year on two counts of second-degree manslaughter.

Arresting officers said LeBoeuf “intentionally, knowingly, unlawfully, criminally and recklessly” committed the offense of murder in causing Diffin’s death by “repeatedly striking” the victim’s head and torso with a “blunt object.” Shane spent more than a week in the hospital before ultimately succumbing to his injuries.

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