Michael Fletcher: A Simple Case of Murder
True to her reputation, Judge Cooper hammered Mick Fletcher.
"You have monstrous arrogance thinking you could get away with this," she told Fletcher. "In all my years on the bench, I don't think I've seen a crime so incredibly cold-blooded or heartless. The jury didn't buy your story, and neither do I."
Cooper was the last of many women who stepped forward to vent their anguish on Mick Fletcher. Gloria Meisner told him that she hoped he would be found in a similar humiliating position as her daughter: naked from the waist down and lying in a pool of blood. His sisters-in-law berated him for his callous attitude toward his wife and daughter. Teammates from Leann's bowling league and customers from her nail salon each took turns sharing with the court their sense of anger and loss.
When the time came for Mick to address the court, he stood and for the first time in Cooper's courtroom, spoke publicly.
"On the advice of my attorney," he said quietly, "I have nothing to say at this time."
The sentencing guidelines for a second-degree murder conviction with the aggravating and mitigating circumstances present in this case call for an indeterminate sentence of 13½ to 22 years. Under Michigan's truth-in-sentencing law, Fletcher would be required to serve at least the minimum term.
But Cooper would have no part of that. She sentenced Mick Fletcher to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2017, but his release will have to be approved by Cooper or her successor. Shortly after the sentencing, Mick Fletcher was taken to the maximum-security prison in Jackson, Michigan where he was evaluated and assigned to a permanent location somewhere in a maximum-security facility. He is appealing his conviction.
An Oakland County Probate Judge recently terminated Fletcher's parental rights; he did not contest the ruling. Hannah Fletcher is currently living with her maternal grandparents, and her aunt and uncle have begun adoption proceedings. Her paternal grandparents have been barred from visitation pending the outcome of a complaint filed against them by the Meisner family.
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, pending an investigation into her activities with Fletcher, charged Judge Susan Chrzanowski with judicial misconduct. The commission chided her for her relationship with Fletcher, said she had "exposed the legal profession to ridicule" and asked the State Supreme Court to suspend her from her duties.
Between the time of the end of his investigation into Leann Fletcher's murder and her trial, Detective Tom Cleyman was promoted to sergeant of the Hazel Park Police Department. Officer Ron Lehman, the first officer on the scene, is now with the Shelby Township Police Department.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that more than 800,000 women were victims of violent crimes perpetrated by "intimate partners" in 1999. The FBI estimated that nearly 1 in 4 women who were the victim of a violent crime were attacked by someone they knew. Leann Fletcher was one of more than 1,300 women murdered by intimate partners in the United States last year, according to the FBI.