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What you need to know for 10/22/2017

Leon sentenced to 10 years for perjury

Leon sentenced to 10 years for perjury

Edward Leon was sentenced to 10 years, the maximum, for two perjury convictions related to the 2013
Leon sentenced to 10 years for perjury
Edward Leon is led into the Federal Courthouse in Albany in November 2014.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Edward Leon was sentenced to 10 years, the maximum, for two perjury convictions related to the 2013 Hulett Street arson fire that killed four people.

Liz Dolder will be in court Thursday morning for the conclusion of what she calls the “first small battle.”

She’s referring to the sentencing of convicted perjurer and St. Johnsville resident Edward Leon.

Leon was convicted in November of twice lying to a federal grand jury about the May 2, 2013 Hulett Street arson fire that killed Dolder’s brother, David Terry, three of his children and maimed his 5-year-old daughter Safyre for life.

“It will be one small victory,” Dolder said Wednesday evening. She then added, “if he gets 10 years.”

No one has been charged with setting the fire — Leon denies involvement — but evidence presented at his trial painted him as an obsessed lover who hid behind an anonymous cellphone to send threatening messages to his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, David Terry.

The jury found Leon, 43, lied when he denied being in Schenectady that morning and lied when he denied knowing who operated the anonymous cellphone used to send threatening text messages to Terry.

Leon later testified to the grand jury that he owned the cellphone and sent the threatening text messages.

Leon also admitted to investigators to being across the street from the 438 Hulett St. apartment house minutes before neighbors reported the fire. He even admitted to seeing the fire then fleeing. But he has continued to deny starting it.

Federal prosecutors are asking Judge Gary L. Sharpe to give Leon the 10-year maximum sentence, calling it “difficult to imagine a perjury case with more depraved conduct.”

Leon’s defense has asked for five years. Sharpe is expected to hand down Leon’s term in 9 a.m. proceedings today in Albany.

Killed in the arson fire were Terry and three of his children, Layah, 3, Michael, 2, and Donavan Duell, 11 months. Safyre suffered severe burns and underwent a long recovery that continues.

Since Leon’s November perjury conviction, Safyre has become known far beyond Schenectady for a December worldwide Internet Christmas card project.

Safyre, now 8, received well over 1 million cards as individuals around the country and beyond learned of her many struggles and triumphs since the blaze and sent cards wishing her well.

Dolder and her husband, Michael, have cared for Safyre at their Rotterdam home after her lengthy stay at the hospital. Both Liz and Michael Dolder are expected to be at this morning’s sentencing, as are other family members.

“My emotions are all messed up,” Dolder said.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

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