Police Chaplain explains emotional process for officers after murder trial

Chaplin Ron Leonard said after tragedy, officers may have ‘survivor’s guilt’

SAN ANTONIO – The Otis McKane trial has come to an end with the jury sentencing him to the death penalty.

For volunteer police Chaplain Ron Leonard, McKane’s sentencing was needed not just to close the case but, for Det. Benjamin Marconi’s family and brothers and sisters in blue to find closure as well.

“It was good to get the closure regardless of what the verdict meant or anything like that. I really don’t want to get into that, it’s just that it was closure. It’s over with now,” Leonard said.

Chaplain Leonard said the four-week-long trial was tough for those involved as they watched Marconi’s suspected and now convicted killer front and center of all media outlets.

“They still have emotions and they still have to re-live that horrible day because he was just brutally ambushed is what it was,” Leonard said.

Chaplain Leonard and his therapy dog Molly have been providing emotional support for officers and their families for over a decade. They’ve been here in San Antonio for a year now and have already connected with local officers.

He explained often times when an officer is killed, hurt, or is subjected to something traumatizing, he and Molly comfort them by talk things out with them and praying for them.

“We got out emotionally and helped these families and different ones be able to come to grips with what happened,” Leonard said.

He added that often after a tragedy like Det. Marconi’s, officers will have “survivors guilt.”

“Survivors guilt, which means why wasn’t I the one that was hurt instead of him. Why am I still alive and he’s gone,” said Chaplin Leonard.

Leonard said even family members of officers will have the same guilt and begin to question if perhaps their loved one is next or if they’ll make it home that night.

Chaplain Leonard said as soon as McKane’s sentencing verdict came in, he was in touch with multiple officers who called to thank him and Molly for his time and support.

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Chandler Watson is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Originally from the Houston area, he graduated from Texas State University in 2018 with a bachelor’s of science in Mass Communication. Chandler is no stranger to San Antonio, as he’s worked here for 3 years prior to joining KSAT. He’s excited to bring you the stories of our community!