News & Features

Hamilton Man Convicted in Hit-and-run Death of 9-year-old

Joseph McNamara testified that another driver threatened him with a gun just before the crash

HAMILTON – A Ravalli County jury has convicted a Hamilton man in the hit-and-run death of a 9-year-old boy who was crossing the road on his scooter last summer.

The jury deliberated for about six hours on Friday before convicting Joseph McNamara, 60, of negligent homicide in the July 2019 death of Robert Leonardi, the Ravalli Republic reports.

McNamara testified Friday that another driver threatened him with a gun just before the crash, that he tried to avoid the collision and that he had been planning to turn himself in to authorities when he was arrested more than five hours after the crash.

Prosecutors said McNamara had used alcohol and meth that day, was traveling 55 mph in a 35 mph zone and was making angry phone calls to his girlfriend when he hit the boy. Phil Leonardi testified that he gave McNamara his cellphone and asked him to call 911, but that McNamara said he couldn’t and then drove off.

McNamara will remain in custody pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.