Murphy Hokey Law

February 22, 2024

Prep School Student Killed By Stabbing: Parents Accused Of Organizing Alcoholic House Party

Prep School Student Killed By Stabbing: Parents Accused Of Organizing Alcoholic House Party

A Connecticut couple is being sued by two families for allegedly providing alcohol to minors during a house party in May 2022, just before a Shelton high school student was stabbed to death.

Paul Leifer,59, and Susanna Leifer,51, were detained by Shelton police in March and accused of allowing minors to acquire alcohol. After a party at the Leifers’ Lazy Brook Road home in Shelton, James McGrath, a 17-year-old student at Fairfield College Preparatory School, was tragically stabbed at another residence. This led to Susanna Leifer being charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.

Prep School Student Killed By Stabbing: Parents Accused Of Organizing Alcoholic House Party

“On or about May 14, 2022, Defendants hosted a social gathering at their home on the premises during which a substantial amount of alcohol was served to, and consumed by, individuals under the age of [21],” reads the lawsuit filed by Thomas Connery, the father of another minor who was stabbed that evening in 2022.

The complaint also states that the defendants “knew or should have known that alcohol causes individuals, adults and minors included, to become intoxicated, impaired, and often, violent and aggressive.” Eventually, a fight broke out at the home involving people under the age of 21 who had been drinking.

For allegedly stabbing McGrath and others, 16-year-old Milford resident Raul Eliah Valle is charged with one count of murder and two charges of first-degree assault. McGrath was a junior at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, which is close to Fairfield Prep, which Valle attended.

Connery’s lawsuit also claims that the two parents of the Leifers failed to intervene, call the police, or take “otherwise appropriate action” when a fight broke out at their house and the partygoers were permitted to leave.

For the pain his kid endured, Connery is suing the Leifers for two counts of negligence: carelessness per se, host culpability, recklessness, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

In the second action, both the father of one of the children injured at the Leifers’ party and the kid himself claim that on May 14, 2022, the Leifers knew they were serving alcohol to underage guests at their house.

Soon after the minor plaintiff arrived at the Leifers’ house, according to Jeffrey Heinz and his son, “several of the Leifer[s’] guests, all underaged, who had consumed alcohol on the premises with the Leifer[s’] knowledge and consent assaulted her.”According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff “was thrown to the ground, beaten with fists, kicked, and cho[k]ed.” According to the complaint, one of the guests “beat” him in the head with a “motorcycle helmet.”

The complaint also claims that the Leifers failed to “report the assault to police…or in any way restrain their underaged, intoxicated guests” in spite of their clear awareness of the conflict.

At the second address on Laurel Glen Drive, after the guests departed the Leifers’ house and a brawl broke out, the plaintiff allegedly got beat up again and “stabbed multiple times.”

Heinz is accusing the Leifers of being reckless and careless in general.

Earlier this year, McGrath’s dad filed a lawsuit against the Leifers.

Fox News Digital contacted the Leifers’ legal representative, but they did not get back to them right away.

Just before midnight on May 14, 2022, police received “several 911 calls regarding a fight” outside the Laurel Glen Drive property. When they arrived, they discovered several victims on the front lawn. A warrant states that the owner of the house where the party was held was present at the scene.

Witnesses informed police that there were up to twenty-five persons fighting on the home’s front lawn at one time. The report names at least three minor suspects, including Valle, who may have been in possession of a knife. According to the warrant, McGrath sustained “one stab wound to the left side of the chest.” “The stab wound went through the rib and heart.”

McGrath’s lungs held almost 1.8 litres of blood, according to a medical examiner from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut who testified before the police.

Prior to the May 14 incident, Valle was in good academic standing and had not engaged in any fights at school, a St. Joseph’s representative told Fox News Digital last year.

Only a few days after his arrest in May 2022, Valle was freed on a $2 million bond.

According to McGrath’s obituary, the 17-year-old was his sister’s “best friend and confidant” and the “sunshine” of his parents’ lives.

“Many described Jim as a wonderfully happy person with a big heart who was a loving friend to many,” the obituary states. “He loved his school, Fairfield Prep, and he excelled as an athlete in every sport he chose. He played football and lacrosse for Fairfield Prep and as a youth for Shelton and Connecticut Wolves as well. He understood the meaning of being part of a team.”

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