By Scott North
A former Everett woman has failed to convince the state Court of Appeals that she is wrongly imprisoned for the February 1997 murder of her estranged husband.
Teresa Gaethe-Leonard, 38, is now serving a 30-year sentence for the shooting death of Chuck Leonard. The appeals court decision, released Monday, keeps her behind bars.
Chuck Leonard, 53, was a longtime counselor with the Everett School District. He was repeatedly shot early one morning while asleep in his home on the shores of Lake Goodwin.
Gaethe-Leonard was charged after one of her girlfriends told police the woman admitted to the killing. The defendant and the victim were engaged in a lengthy custody dispute over their daughter, then 5 years old.
At her 1998 Snohomish County Superior Court trial, Gaethe-Leonard claimed she was innocent by reason of insanity — a battered woman and victim of childhood sexual abuse who believed her child was at risk of similar mistreatment.
She claimed her trial was unfair in part because Judge Gerald Knight refused to instruct jurors that she was legally justified and shot her husband in defense of herself and her daughter.
The state appeals court said the judge was correct in not allowing Gaethe-Leonard to raise that defense.
"Here, there was no evidence that (Chuck) Leonard posed any immediate danger to the defendant or her daughter," the court ruled.
The justices also rejected Gaethe-Leonard’s claims that prosecutors had improperly withheld a state psychologist’s opinion that the defendant was a likely victim of abuse. The defense had ample notice, and prosecutors did nothing to merit a new trial, the court ruled.
Prosecutors alleged Gaethe-Leonard killed her husband because he stood in the way of her dreams of starting a new life in Hawaii with her wealthy boyfriend, who was also married. They contended she manufactured the abuse claims as an excuse for her actions and manipulated the mental health experts.
You can call Herald Writer Scott North at 425-339-3431 or send e-mail to