The marriage of Michigan attorney Michael “Mick” Fletcher and his wife Leann had been a volatile one, filled with arguments and separations – usually as a result of Mick’s, as everyone called him, roving eye.
Despite his inability to be faithful, Leann loved Mick and she desperately wanted to make the marriage work. Especially for their daughter Hannah. Leann had come from a home with two loving, devoted parents and she wanted the same for own daughter. Even if it meant forgiving and forgetting, Leann felt it was what she had to do.
By summer of 1999, the Fletchers were once again in a reconciliation. The separation had been the a result of an affair Mick had with fellow attorney Dawnn Gruenburg and Judge Susan “Sue” Chrzanowski. Leann had only suspected the affairs and never had any concrete proof, but her suspicions were strong enough that the couple was living apart.
Mick, taking advantage of his profession, had filed for divorce in a neighboring county. Much to his surprise, Leann borrowed money from her parents and retained the services of an attorney to ensure she received a fair settlement, as well as custody of Hannah and reasonable child support.
As soon as Mick was served with her counter-petition, he seemingly had a change of heart. Whispering promises of change and devotion, Mick had talked his way back into the home and Leann’s heart.
Now it was August 1999 and Leann had just discovered she was pregnant again. A part of her was frightened at the idea of another baby being born into such an unstable marriage, but the loving mother was thrilled and excited. After all, Mick really had changed. He showered her with cards and flowers, was spending more time with Hannah, his help around the house had more than doubled, and he was so very affectionate, in private and in public. Maybe filing for divorce was the wake up call her husband had needed.
Leann hoped things had really changed for good. But if not, well, she’d cross those bridges then. For now, there was a new baby on the way and Leann couldn’t have been happier.
Sex and Shots
On Monday, August 16, 1999, Mick had talked Leann into accompanying him to a local shooting range, his reasoning being that he wanted her to learn to shoot a gun in case she ever needed to defend herself. It wasn’t Leann’s idea of a fun outing, but she was eager to spend some time alone with Mick. She made arrangements for her parents to keep Hannah while they were out.
Gloria Misener was a little concerned about her son-in-law’s idea of a “date,” and quietly asked her daughter before she left, “Mick didn’t take out an extra insurance policy on you, did he?” Although she undoubtedly sought reassurance, Gloria said it jokingly to Leann, who replied, “Oh, Mom, he’s not going to shoot me.”
Those were the last words Leann Fletcher would ever say to her mother.
The Fletchers spent about twenty minutes at the Double Action firing range. After knocking off, they decided to take advantage of the babysitting a little longer and stop by their house on Hazelwood Avenue for a little “afternoon delight” and arrived home around half past noon.
At 12:48 p.m., Mick called 911 in hysterics. He told the operator that he went been in the bathroom when he heard a gunshot. When he rushed out, he found his wife, still in bed, lying in a pool of blood. Leann was dead from a gunshot wound to the head. The gun lay almost a foot away from her body.
Mick was sitting on the front porch smoking a cigarette when the first officer arrived.
Suicide or Murder?
According to Mick’s initial statements to police, the implication seemed to be that Leann had committed suicide. But why would a woman, who just days before excitedly announced her second pregnancy to her parents, commit suicide after stopping off for a “quickie” with her husband?
For the detectives who responded to the Hazelwood Avenue home, things just didn’t add up to suicide.
First, the gun was too far from Leann’s hands. In cases of suicide by gun, the weapon falls much closer to the deceased’s hands. And to commit suicide with a gun, especially a shot to the head, is a rarity among women. A later autopsy would reveal the gun was discharged at least 18 inches from Leann’s head and done from an angle that is impossible for a self-inflicted wound.
Then there was the bold statement made in the investigators’ presence by Leann’s mother to her husband Jack Misener were notified of their daughter’s death: “Oh my God, Jack, he shot her.”
And there was the two known mistresses of Mick: Dawnn Gruenburg and Susan Chrzanowski. While the affair appeared to be over with Dawnn, detectives were about to learn that Judge Sue had believed Mick was going to divorce Leann and they were going to be together soon. Chranowski would later find herself in hot water when it was discovered she had assigned Mick numerous cases wherein a defendant qualified for a public defender and had dismissed a couple of his clients’ criminal cases.
Leann’s divorce attorney also spoke with police and said Mick had been unhappy with Leann having a lawyer because he had wanted his wife to trust him to be fair. The adulterer expected Leann to believe he would give her a reasonable portion of a large settlement he was expecting from a malpractice case.
Last, but not least, was the lack of blood on Mick’s hands and clothing when the first officers arrived. Mick claimed to have rolled his wife over and checked for a pulse before he called 911. So why didn’t he have more blood on him?
So… Angle of the shot made suicide impossible, Mick was currently having an affair, he was unhappy about Leann hiring an attorney because he knew she’d get a larger portion of the settlement he was soon to receive, and Leann’s mother, before knowing much of anything, had blurted out that Mick had shot Leann.
Even before the medical examiner listed homicide as the official means of death, investigators were certain it was.
Lawyer Turned Defendant
Three days after Leann died, on August 19, 1999, Mick Fletcher was arrested for the murder of his wife. Due to Michigan law at the time of the murder, Mick was unable to be charged for the death of his unborn child.
Following a trial filled with stories of lurid sex and many lies, the ten men and two women jury had no trouble believing Mick had murdered Leann, only deciding if he had planned the killing. After four days of deliberation, wherein they had re-enacted the murder based on the evidence, they returned a verdict of guilt on first degree murder.
Mick was sentenced to life in prison. It has been erroneously reported that Michael will be eligible for parole in 2017 but, according to attorney Robert Stern of Stearns & Coppin PLLC law firm, a first degree murder sentence in Michigan is accompanied by an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility. In other words, this wife killer will never be free again short of a judicial miracle in the form of an appeal.
Judicial Smack Down
When their affair was uncovered, Judge Susan Chrzanowski was placed on paid leave until December 2001 when she was suspended for six months without pay. Many Michigan residents, especially around the McComb County area, were outraged that the adulterous judge, who so obviously favored her secret lover in Court, appearances got off with a mere slap on the wrist.
Today, Susan Chrzanowski practices general law, with a heavy focus on criminal defense, from her office in Mount Clemens, Michigan.
Hannah Fletcher was formally adopted by her maternal grandparents, but not without having to battle a custody bid by Mick’s family.
In June 2001, Michigan enacted a new fetal protection law which allows for charges against person(s) whose criminal action(s) against a woman that results in the unwanted termination of a pregnancy is a felony, punishable by anywhere from two years to life for premeditated murder.
In 2003, the Michigan Bar finally got around to revoking Mick’s license to practice law.
In November 2010, Dawnn Gruenburg was elected a District Court judge for the 37th District Court.