A domestic chase that began in Kilmichael and came through Winona landed one Kilmichael man in jail for kidnapping and various traffic violations.
Austin Leach of Kilmichael went before Judge Donald Bond in Winona Municipal Court last week to face charges of kidnapping, reckless driving, no insurance, switched tag, tint violation, and no seatbelt.
According to testimony given during a preliminary hearing, Leach stands accused of driving in pursuit of a vehicle driven by a woman he was involved with romantically at a high rate of speed, eventually stopping her and forcing her out of her vehicle and into his, and physically assaulting her. The incident occurred the afternoon of June 10.
Winona Police Sergeant Matt Miletello testified that the female victim said the incident started when Leach became aggravated that she was taking too long to get dressed to leave the house. The victim reported that she then left the house on her own, heading onto Highway 407 with Leach in pursuit.
Miletello said he was at the Winona Police Department when he first heard the report of a chase down Highway 51. He testified that the department began getting calls from motorists, including Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers, who witnessed the incident and was following behind the vehicles. He directed police to Front Street.
Miletello said the victim, who is not from the county, realized Leach was following her and began searching for the Winona Police Department. She headed downtown on Summit Street and then turned left onto Front Street, but she turned into the lane with oncoming traffic and drove toward Liberty Street. He said she could not call 911 because Leach had taken her cell phone.
At the intersection of Front and Liberty streets, Miletello alleged that Leach pulled in front of the victim, got out of the car, and shattered the driver’s door window. He then forced the victim out of her car.
He testified that according to witness statements, the victim got into the truck with Leach, and Leach allegedly punched her in the face.
Miletello said Officer Demarcus Peeples and Captain Dan Herod saw Leach on North Central Avenue, and Peeples conducted the stop. He said Flowers was also at the scene.
Peeples testified that he pulled Leach out of the car and arrested him, and after a search of the vehicle, officers found a pellet gun in Leach’s truck.
Leach, who was represented by Public Defender Lee Bailey, testifying only in regards to the misdemeanor charges. He stated that Peeples never asked him for his insurance card, and when he asked him to step out of the vehicle, he unbuckled his seat beat. He did admit that the tag was not his.
Bond bound Leach over to the action of the grand jury, and Bailey requested a reduction in bond. However, Bond declined because of a past felony conviction and continued bond at $25,000. He remanded Leach back into the custody of the Winona Police Department.