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Parole Hearing for Bill Leaf’s Killer Postponed

SYRACUSE — The long-awaited decision on parole for the man serving time for killing former Syracuse broadcaster Bill Leaf in 2006 has been postponed.  A parole hearing for Matthew Benedict, 28, was supposed to be held today, but according to Bill’s sister Maria, the hearing has been postponed due to a “paperwork issue” on Benedict’s side.

A native of Syracuse and Liverpool before graduating from Syracuse University, Bill Leaf was working in the newsrooms of both WSYR radio and WTVH television.

The first clue of a postponement came this morning, when New York State’s inmate lookup website indicated Benedict’s parole hearing is scheduled for December. As of last night, the website listed “10/2011” as the hearing date.

Benedict was driving drunk when he slammed head-on into Leaf’s car along Interstate 81 in January 2006, killing Leaf instantly.  Benedict was later convicted on charges of manslaughter and criminal possession of marihuana, resulting in a prison sentence of 6- to 12-years.

That six-year minimum is coming up in February 2012.  Bill’s sister Maria, herself a former WSYR news anchor/reporter, says she had been repeatedly assured today would be the day for the parole hearing.  She had originally expected to have a decision at about 2:00 this afternoon, but only learned of the postponement this morning.

Although the State website says the hearing will be held in December, Maria Leaf says she has been informed that Benedict “can go before the board at the end of October, November or December.”  She has been told she’ll just have to keep checking back to find out exactly when the hearing will take place.

Earlier this year, Maria Leaf established a special Facebook page called “Honor Bill Leaf.  Keep a Killer Behind Bars.”  The public was invited to post their thoughts on why Benedict should be denied parole.  On September 1st, Maria printed all the comments and submitted them to the parole board.  Now that the hearing has been postponed, Maria says any new comments posted between September 1st and the new deadline (yet to be announced) will also be printed and forwarded to the parole board.

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