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Monday, January 12, 2015
New York man wants hearing on Pocono triple fatal charges
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Northampton resident Ed Lesher had a simple message for the New York man he holds responsible for his son Ryan’s death.
“Man Up Michael Ware” was written on a poster board that he took into a Pocono Mountains courtroom Tuesday for the first court appearance of Ware, 53, of Scarsdale.
Ware is accused of allowing his then-15-year-old daughter to drive his 2001 Chevy Suburban, which was involved in a rollover accident that killed three Council Rock South High School students and seriously injured a fourth over Labor Day weekend.
Ed Lesher makes his feelings known /photo Journal News
In the brief appearance in Wayne County Central Court, Ware requested a preliminary hearing on the charges he faces — three counts of involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children, false reports and other offenses. He left the courthouse through a back door, free on $100,000 unsecured bail. The hearing will be scheduled at a later date before District Judge Bonnie Carney, according to Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards.
His defense attorney, Robert Reno, on Tuesday called the DA’s charges against his client — who pleaded not guilty — “rather overreaching.”
“I think it’s a novel theory of criminal responsibility here,” Reno added. “It seems to be a hybrid between civil and criminal liability.”
The Aug. 30 fatal accident in Paupack Township took the lives of Cullen Keffer, Shamus Digney and Ryan Lesher, all 15 and of Northampton, and seriously injured Ryan Keim, also 15. The boys were riding in the SUV with Ware’s daughter, Julia Ware, and her 15-year-old friend when it went out of control and flipped.
Court documents allege that Ware twice gave Julia permission to take his SUV the morning of the fatal accident — the second time Julia and her friend picked up the four boys and were driving to a nearby barbecue restaurant. The boys were staying at the Lesher family’s vacation home, which is around the corner from Ware’s vacation home in the Lake Wallenpaupack Estates resort.
After his daughter was involved in the fatal crash, which investigators attribute to speeding, Ware allegedly lied to Pennsylvania State Police about not giving his daughter permission to drive.
Michael Ware /Journal News
Michael Ware appeared at the accident scene on Goosepond Road shortly afterward and told state police that he was in the house cleaning when his daughter took the SUV without his knowledge, according to court documents. Initially, Julia and her friend and front seat passenger Rebecca Kelly, also 15, of Westchester, New York, backed up Ware’s story, but both later recanted, the court documents show.
Witnesses who live near the accident scene told investigators they heard boys’ voices yelling “slow down” in the moments before the rollover accident, the records show. Ryan Keim reportedly later told state police that Julia was “flying” and he and his friends told her to “slow down.”
Julia Ware, of Pleasantville, New York, who turned 16 earlier this month, has also been charged as a juvenile in connection with the accident. The Wayne County DA has not released any information about Julia’s charges citing state juvenile law. More information about Julia’s charges might become public if she is adjudicated in juvenile court — the equivalent of being guilty in adult court.
Ed Lesher continues to believe Julia Ware should be charged as an adult. He added prosecutors have given the families little information about her case.
“She acted like a big girl,” he said. “She knew what she was doing and she knew that she was wrong.”
Michael Ware’s court appearance on Tuesday was the first time that Ed Lesher laid eyes on Ware.
Lesher with his son and a friend waited silently outside the courtroom with photos of Ryan and the homemade poster with its “Man Up” message.
“He saw me. I did what I wanted to do. I showed him my face. Now we know each others’ eyes,” Lesher said. “We just have to sit back and wait. We got in his head. I’m not going nowhere until I get justice for my son and the three boys.”
Until then, his poster will stand in a second-floor window of his vacation home, Lesher said.