Shot At Redemption

Page 9 of 9

"Something is wacky in his brain -- I don't care how normal, quote-unquote, he looks or acts now," Patton says. "How would he think that killing her would get him his money back? To me, he's not capable of acting normal. If it happened once, to me, it will happen again. He went there premeditatedly to kill her. Dead is dead."

Against Patton's wishes, prosecutors agreed to reduce the first-degree murder charge to second-degree with a sentence of between 17 and 19 years. Lederer took the plea on March 11, but Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Cates said he'll wait until May 20, the scheduled sentencing day, to decide whether to approve the deal. If he doesn't, either side can back out.

And so Gordon Lederer is in limbo.

"I'll tell you what justice is: You can remand him to my custody," says David Grece, his former employer. "I'll hire him. I'll pay him a top wage. And I'll make sure that -- I won't have to make sure of anything.

"Gordon is a changed person. Let's move on. What benefit are we going to get from putting him behind bars when you consider the fact that this is going to ruin his wife's life, this is going to ruin his daughter's life?"

Maria Lederer knows the man she loves is going to prison for a long time. Sometimes, she says she wishes he hadn't turned himself in. Other times, she says it was the right thing to do. To ask him to keep his secret would have been selfish. After all, she asks, what's a prison term compared to eternity?

"What he did, he did to save his soul," she says. "He is forgiven."

Lederer says he knows that. He also knows God's opinion doesn't mean much in a court of law.

"Just because you're forgiven doesn't mean there aren't consequences. What I did was the right thing to do. My perspective is, it's all in God's hands."

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Bruce Rushton