School bus driver waives preliminary hearing Friday

Willie R. Leonberger

Willie R. Leonberger Photo by Don Norfleet.

Willie R. Leonberger, 78, Auxvasse, the school bus driver who ran over and killed a North Callaway student in January, Friday waived his preliminary hearing in Callaway County Associate Circuit Court.

Leonberger is facing an involuntary second-degree manslaughter charge after the bus he was driving ran over and killed 6-year-old Hunter Pitt, a North Callaway School District elementary school student.

Associate Circuit Judge Carol England allowed jurisdiction in the case to move from associate court to circuit court. She set Leonberger’s next arraignment at 9 a.m. on Nov. 21 in Division 1 of Callaway County Circuit Court.

Free on a $2,500 bond, Leonberger was represented by Columbia attorney Jerome S. Antel III.

Leonberger is charged with involuntary second degree manslaughter, a Class D felony. The criminal negligence Class D felony charge means his sentence cannot exceed 10 years in prison if he is found guilty.

In a probable cause for arrest statement filed with the court, Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Justin W. Turner asked for a second degree manslaughter charge against Leonberger.

Turner said his investigation revealed Leonberger was criminally negligent when the bus he was driving ran over and killed the 6-year-old boy.

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