Police in Connecticut have arrested parents who they say served alcohol to high school students at a party that preceded a fight that left a teenager dead.
Paul Leifer, 59, and Susanna Leifer, 51, of Shelton, were arrested Thursday, the Shelton Police Department said. They are both charged with permitting minors to possess alcohol, and Susanna Leifer is additionally charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.
The arrests stem from a party the Leifers held at their home in Shelton on May 14, 2022.
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“Several high school students attended this party where alcohol was present,” the police announcement said. “During the investigation it was revealed that Susanna had interactions with some of the attendees.”
A fight apparently broke out at the party, which was then “dispersed,” police said.
However, some of the attendees at that party “left and engaged in subsequent fight in town which resulted in the stabbing death of James McGrath.”
Under Connecticut law, permitting minors to illegally possess alcohol in a home or on private property, or failing to halt such possession, is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail. Second-degree reckless endangerment is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a potential jail term of up to six months and a maximum $1,000 fine.
McGrath, 17, was stabbed to death during a fight at that second location, around 1 1/2 miles away from the Leifer home. Three other students were also injured.
Days later, police arrested Raul Valle, then 16 years old, and charged him with murder and assault. Valle, who is being charged as an adult, reportedly turned himself in. Court records indicate that he has been released on a $2 million bond and has a court appearance scheduled for April 25.
Valle was a student at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, a rival high school to McGrath’s Fairfield Prep, according to local CBS affiliate WFSB.
A lawyer for the McGrath family told WFSB that the boy’s parents intend to file a lawsuit at some point in the future.
“The actions of the Leifers contributed to an environment that encouraged underage drinking, which resulted in a chain of events that ultimately led to the unfortunate death of James McGrath,” attorney Michael Rosnick told the station.
Shelton police say that the Leifers were released on a Promise to Appear and were given a court date of April 3.
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