Lee A. Franck, of Niagra. Felony charges filed May 22 include first degree intentional homicide.

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — New trial dates have been set for the the 59-year-old suspect in a February 2018 Wausau homicide, more than two years after the slaying.

Lee Franck, 60, is accused of killing 77-year-old Lyle Leith, of Wausau, on Feb. 19, 2018 in the garage of leith’s Kickbusch Street home. He faces charges of first degree intentional homicide. Franck’s trial was set to begin Aug. 30, but has now been shifted to 2022.

Leith’s body was discovered hours later by Leith’s daughter, who was dating Franck and had been living with him in Florence County at the time Mr. Leith was killed.Investigators say Leith died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, likely caused by a tire iron or crowbar.

In October 2019, Franck entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, Wisconsin’s version of the insanity plea. Franck has also struggled to keep defense counsel, with two prominent defense attorneys stepping away from the case. Richard Lawson withdrew from the case in September 2019, while Peter Prusinski, citing a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship, withdrew as counsel in May 2020.

He is now represented by his third attorney, Peter Rotter.

Franck’s trial dates have been changed multiple times. Circuit Judge Greg Strasser, on Aug. 11, agreed to change the date again – this time to an April 18 start date.

Franck faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he is convicted on the homicide charge. His trial is expected to take up to three weeks.