Man Gets 55 Years in Prison for Boy’s Hit-and-Run Death

Joseph McNamara had used alcohol and meth and was speeding when he hit the boy

By Associated Press

HAMILTON — A western Montana man who was convicted of negligent homicide in the hit-and-run death of a 9-year-old boy last July will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, the Ravalli Republic reported.

Joseph McNamara, 60, was sentenced Tuesday to 55 years in prison without the possibility of parole for the death of Robert Leonardi of Hamilton.

Robert was crossing the road on his scooter when he was struck by a van driven by McNamara. McNamara had used alcohol and meth and was speeding when he hit the boy, prosecutors said.

Chief Deputy Ravalli County Attorney Angela Wetzsteon argued for a sentence without the chance of parole in order to protect society from McNamara, a man whose criminal tendencies could be traced back to his childhood, she said. His sister testified he pushed her out a three-story high window when she was 3 and that he hung the family dog.

Phil and Alyce Leonardi testified about the pain and anguish they suffer with the loss of their son.

Alyce Leonardi said she hasn’t touched anything in her son’s room and “I’m already feeling like I’m starting to forget the sound of his voice and the touch of his little hand,” she said. She visits his graveside on Sundays. As a teacher, she tells her students at Corvallis High School about her son’s death, leaving out no details, and reminding them they have the ability to choose right from wrong.

“As I look at their stunned and saddened faces, I remind them that Joseph McNamara chose to use drugs,” she said. “He chose to drink alcohol. He chose to drive twice the speed limit. He chose to be distracted by his phone. He chose to be angry. And he chose to drive away while a little boy was lying in the road while everyone else was trying to help.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.