Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Psychiatrist accused of burying body pleads not guilty
By Victoria E. Freile
February 19, 2014

Psychiatrist William Lewek

Psychiatrist William Lewek

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A psychiatrist accused of tampering with evidence in the disappearance of a New York man in October, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges.

Last month, Matthew Straton’s body was removed from a shallow grave in the backyard of William Lewek’s Rochester, N.Y., home. Lewek, 62, who also is a certified addiction counselor, allegedly admitted to burying Straton, 32, during the early morning hours of Oct. 29.

Straton’s family and friends reported last seeing him Oct. 28.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office continues to investigate how Straton died.

“I’d like to know what happened to my son,” Kym Straton said after Lewek’s arraignment in Monroe County Court. “If he has nothing to do with Matt’s death, why did he take him out and bury him? Why didn’t he call 911?”

The felony complaint against Lewek alleges the psychiatrist removed Straton’s body from a third-floor bedroom and crudely concealed it in the backyard under soil, debris and a patio chair. However, the document does not state that Straton died in the house.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” said Assistant District Attorney Kelly Wolford, who is prosecuting the case. “Whether or not we can file additional charges in the future remains to be seen. We’re still waiting for the final results of the autopsy.”

Wolford said it was not clear how long the autopsy would take. The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office opted to proceed with charges “we believe we can prove.”

When Straton’s body was found Jan. 15, the decomposition of the body slowed the identification from the Monroe County medical examiner for almost 24 hours.

Lewek was charged with tampering with physical evidence and drug possession, specifically third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, both felonies. He is currently free on $350,000 bail.

Lewek and his lawyer Matthew Parrinello declined to comment outside court Wednesday.

The nature of the relationship remained unclear, although Straton’s relatives have speculated that perhaps Straton had sought help from Lewek for a drug addiction.

Lewek is board certified in addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine and geriatric psychiatry.

Nearly two dozen of Straton’s relatives and friends attended the Wednesday morning arraignment, all wearing white T-shirts with Straton’s photo and “Justice for Matt” printed in red block letters.

They said they want to understand what happened and how Lewek was involved.

Lewek is scheduled to return to Monroe County Court on April 30 for argument of motions.