Father who drowned child seeks to withdraw plea after 10 years in prison

By Greg Sowinski - [email protected]


OTTAWA — A man serving a life sentence for drowning his child is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea to aggravated murder, renewing the defense that the medicine he was taking for his mental health contributed to the crime.

Michael Luebrecht, 48, who was sentenced to prison in 2006 with the chance for parole after serving 25 years, wants to withdraw his plea to the charge. He was convicted of drowning his 13-month-old son, Joel Michael, on May 23, 2005, at his home in Fort Jennings.

An attorney for Luebrecht filed the motion Wednesday in Putnam County Common Pleas Court. In the motion, it alleges the 15 medicines Luebrecht was on played a key role in the crime. The medicines have serious side effects, including causing suicidal or homicidal thoughts when the medicines are stopped without a tapering period, the motion said.

“This is exactly what was happening up to the time when Mr. Luebrecht drowned his own son, Joel,” the motion said.

His attorney, Danny Hill II of Defiance, said the effects of the drugs were not well known at the time of the crime but are now known. Hill points to statements Putnam County Common Pleas Judge Randall Basinger made about mental illness during the case. Hill argues Luebrecht’s sentencing was unjust, considering current knowledge of the drugs.

Luebrecht has been stabilized in prison and his treatment plan is working, Hill wrote.

Hill said in the motion Luebrecht had a history of mental illness, including hospitalization. Luebrecht also told a doctor he had thoughts of killing his other son and going to prison.

He also spoke of hurting the whole family, according to the motion.

In the weeks leading up to killing his son, Luebrecht had obsessive thoughts of killing his son, the motion said.

During a 911 call, Luebrecht admitted to drowning his son in the bathtub after picking up his son from a babysitter. He filled the tub and held his son under water.


By Greg Sowinski

[email protected]

Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.

Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.

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