Prosecutors have dismissed a first-degree murder charge against a Seattle man jailed for over two years after falsely confessing to strangling his girlfriend, who died in a Central District stairwell from an apparent drug overdose, according to the man’s defense attorneys.
Leo Driver, who has a severe mental illness, was clearly in a “deluded state” when he went to the police department in 2020 and confessed to killing his girlfriend, Elisabeth Wright, who was found dead over five years earlier, Driver’s lawyers, Amy Parker and Tracy Kolpa, said Friday.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge after reviewing Driver’s statements to police and determining the state could not prove he killed Wright, court records show, the Seattle Times reported.
Superior Court Chief Criminal Judge Karen Donohue dismissed Driver’s murder charge the next day and ordered his release from jail, the records say.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said in a statement that it was “unable to prove a homicide occurred to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt and, as a result, we were legally and ethically bound to dismiss the charges.”
“It’s not your typical false confession case,” which usually result from coercion, said Parker, who noted it’s difficult for prosecutors to stop pursuing murder charges after they’ve been filed and commended Raz “for doing the right thing.”