Handyman Given Life Sentence in Woman’s Slaying

A handyman from the desert town of Twentynine Palms has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting a Hawthorne woman.

Torrance Superior Court Judge John P. Shook last week ordered Peter Allan Leach, 27, imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole for shooting Catherine Stroup to death in April, 1983.

Prosecutors said Leach and his brother, Paul, were hired by Stroup’s son-in-law, Michael Seawright, to commit the murder so that Seawright could gain sole ownership of S & S Water Co.

Seawright was arrested in the case, but authorities say they do not have enough evidence to charge him. He has steadfastly denied involvement in the killing.


Peter Leach’s tape-recorded confession was played late last year at his trial, but he took the stand at the end of it and recanted the story. Leach said, instead, that it was Seawright who pulled the trigger.

Paul Leach goes on trial for murder March 31 in Shook’s court.