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21-year-old who stabbed Fla. officer sentenced to life in prison

The officer was speaking to the woman, who had crashed her car, when she suddenly turned around and stabbed him

By Olivia Lloyd
The Charlotte Observer

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — A 21-year-old woman rolled her car in a crash, then stabbed a deputy in the neck to get away when she was confronted, Florida authorities said.

Two years later, she’s been sentenced to life in prison, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office announced April 10.

Leigha Michelle Day is accused of crashing her car shortly before midnight March 23, 2022, according to an arrest report from the sheriff’s office. A witness said a woman walked away from the crash, and deputies went to search for her.

Body camera footage from deputy Cody Colangelo shows him encountering Day crying on a beach. He asks her if she’s been in a crash and asks her to come toward him.

“Let’s walk up here, let’s get off this water, OK?” he is heard saying in the recording.

She appears to be holding her hands together in front of her as they begin walking up the stairs of a dock away from the beach, with the deputy following behind Day, the video shows.

Suddenly, she turns around and stabs him in the neck, officials said.

He can be heard in the video firing a shot and continues pursuing the woman while calling for backup. His hand in the body camera footage appears bloody.

He’s eventually taken into an ambulance, and other law enforcement officers reported finding the woman standing between two docks in waist-high water.

Day appeared to be under the influence of narcotics, deputies said.

When investigators later interviewed the woman, she said she crashed her car and was “scared of going to jail based upon her actions and the fact she had no insurance,” officers wrote in the report.

She told officials she took her wallet and a butterfly knife with her as she left the scene of the accident, but she didn’t mean to kill the officer, only escape, according to detectives.

Day was charged with first-degree attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage and driving with a suspended license, St. Lucie County records show.

McClatchy News reached out to the attorney representing Day, who is now 23, but did not immediately receive a response April 10.

She pleaded not guilty to all three charges and was found guilty by a jury on all three charges April 4, according to court documents. She was sentenced April 10.

“I am honored to lead the men and women of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and proud to work alongside the first responders whose swift, heroic actions saved Deputy Colangelo’s life,” St. Lucie County Sheriff Keith Pearson said in a video.

St. Lucie County is on the coast of southeast Florida, roughly a 70-mile drive northwest of West Palm Beach.

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