Camp deal part of court offer

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:12PM

A teenager killed by police in Peterborough was under consideration for a parole program that would have cleared felony and misdemeanor charges from his adult record had he completed it, according to attorneys involved in his case.

Lane Lesko never had the chance, as completion of a residential program for trouble youth was a prerequisite.

Lesko, 19, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, ran away from an outdoor trip organized by Summit Achievement, and is alleged to have been involved with at least three car thefts in New Hampshire and Maine before he was shot by police on Route 136 after a chase on June 21.

Lesko was at Summit Achievement to see if he would qualify for entrance into Michigan’s Holmes Youth Trainee Act, according to his public defender, Tim Niemann. Lesko pleaded guilty to multiple crimes related to two different incidents in his home state, one where he impersonated an FBI agent and stole a car from a deal

ership before crashing it, and another where he broke into a neighbor’s vacant home.

The Holmes Youth Trainee Act, according to Steven Hiller, whose office prosecuted Lesko, is a Michigan statute that allows a judge to delay a sentence for up to one year to allow the defendant to prove to the court that they are deserving of probation or other leniency. If approved, the defendant must plead guilty to charges and then effectively goes on probation. If they successfully complete probation, the conviction is not attached to their record. If they do not successfully adhere to the guidelines of their probation, the original jail sentance or harsher will be automatically imposed.

“In this case, the judge was considering assigning Lesko to HYTA probation,” wrote Hiller in an email to the Ledger-Transcript. “The choice to grant grant HYTA or not is within the discretion of the court and is a matter of grace.”

However, Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene O’Brien was hesitant to allow Lesko to enter the program, according to Niemann.

“In Lane’s case, given the fact of the severity of the crimes, given his record, and given the sentencing guideline range, she would not agree to that status at first,” said Niemann.

However, the O’Brien did agree to delay Lesko’s sentencing until January, and agreed to let him begin treatment by attending Summit Achievement. Niemann said the outcome of Lesko’s time there and any aftercare programs would have showed the judge whether Lesko was eligible for the Holmes Youth Trainee Act or not.

“It is a special status. It’s a high reward status, but it’s also high risk, because if you mess up, you go straight to jail. He knew that he had a big prison sentence hanging over his head,” said Niemann.

Niemann said that Lesko was transported directly from the Washtenaw County Jail to Summit Achievement. And at that time, he said, Lesko and his family were all hopeful and optomistic, and Lesko said he was prepared to see out the program.

Lesko’s mother Patricia Lesko, has said that her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and autism spectrum in high school, according to published reports.

“I can tell you, the entire defense team, my client, his family, we were all very hopeful. Lane, he saw hope. With some of the things he experienced, that’s a great thing in itself, having hope,” said Niemann. “That’s the best word. Things seemed to be on a very good track, and it came to a very sad, tragic end.”