Accused toddler killer due in court today

Richard Leak, (left) who is accused of beating his 2-year-old son Khalil to death, has another pre-trial court appearance today before Westchester County Judge James Hubert. The 30-year-old New Rochelle father is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the boy’s Jan. 9 death. He has pleade not guilty.

His last court appearance caused some heated arguments between his lawyer, Max DiFabio, and prosecutor Heide Mason. DiFabio accused the District Attorney’s office of not turning over certain evidence and forcing “a trial by ambush.” DiFabio has noted conflicting medical findings in the case and claims this evidence suggests the boy could have died accidentally.

Mason said an expert for the prosecution who reviewed the boy’s autopsy report and other medical records — and may testify at trial — never created a written report that she could give the defense. Hubert ordered the prosecution to turn over any notes or materials that the medical expert used or created during the review.

DiFabio also demanded surveillance video from the New Rochelle Police Department’s “sally port,” the secured entryway where Leak was brought in for questioning, and from the Sound Shore Medical Center. Mason said only recorded video is near the booking area and that the security camera near the sally port is “live-stream” and not recorded. She also said prosecutors subpoenaed the hospital for surveillance video but it doesn’t exist.

When DiFabio said he never saw the subpoena and questioned the lack of recorded security video at the hospital, the judge seemed to side with Mason.

“I don’t think they’re fibbing about it,” he said “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, and (in this case), I’m Mother Mature.”

Leak, who was home with Khalil in their Main Street apartment, is accused of killing the boy after his live-in girlfriend took their other child to Sound Shore Medical Center with breathing problems. Khalil suffered a fractured skull and ribs.

He reportedly gave police three versions of what happened, saying the boy fell off a couch, that he accidentally dropped the child and that he mistakenly slammed him on the ground.Richard Leak has been 27 times but has stayed out of trouble since 2006. He had been employed by the New Rochelle Department of Public Works before his latest arrest.

The county took Khalil from his parents’ home in 2009 after an abuse probe found evidence of injuries. He was returned home 15 months later by Family Court Judge Kathie Davidson, who ruled that the injuries could have been related to a long history of medical problems.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.