Leyva’s attorney requests potential change of plea

Mugshot of Nicholas A. Leyva courtesy of Sublette County Sheriff's Office.

Wallace, Denava each seek court protection orders

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The defense attorney for Nicholas A. Leyva, of Daniel, is asking 9th District Court Judge Marv Tyler to consider allowing Leyva to amend his not guilty plea after learning Leyva was using the “powerful anti-psychotic drug Seroquel” prescribed to his husband.

Attorney Alex Freeburg filed the motion Oct. 14, asking if Leyva, charged with violent felonies, can change his plea to not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency in the alternative, court records show.

“At the time of Mr. Leyva’s entry of not guilty plea, (I) was unsure whether there was sufficient factual basis for Mr. Leyva to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency,” Freeburg wrote.

Leyva’s arraignment in District Court took place Oct. 6. He pleaded not guilty to attempted second-degree murder, felony assault and battery with an unknown object, two counts of felony assault and battery with strangulation, domestic battery, breach of peace and property destruction after an Aug. 31 domestic dispute at their home that resulted in Dr. Stephen Buck Wallace’s loss of consciousness and driving to neighbors to ask for help.

Wallace told deputies that they were eating pizza and talking about their divorce when Leyva broke his phone and attacked him.

Wallace requested an AirIdaho life-flight to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC), where he was treated and released several days later, court records show. He did not testify at Leyva’s preliminary hearing.

Leyva appeared first before Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws, who ruled there was sufficient evidence to bind over the charges to 9th District Court. He set Leyva’s bond at $500,000 cash or surety. Judge Tyler since reduced it to $100,000 cash only; Leyva remains in custody.

‘Powerful antipsychotic’

Freeburg referred to Detective Travis Lanning’s testimony about his Sept. 1 and 7 interviews with Wallace. Lanning testified at Leyva’s preliminary hearing that deputies found two prescriptions in Wallace’s name, one being Seraquel that Wallace quit taking and Leyva began taking to help him sleep, he testified.

“Part of Detective Lanning’s testimony was that there was Seroquel, a powerful anti-psychotic drug in the residence and that Mr. Leyva was using such a drug,” he wrote.

Freeburg said he consulted with a psychologist, forensic psychiatrist and medical doctor whose “conversations support the entry of an amended plea.”

Sublette County Deputy Attorney Clayton Melinkovich agreed that the motion eight days after Leyva’s arraignment would not prejudice the state’s process, according to the motion.

Judge Tyler set the motion hearing for Oct. 27 at 11:30 a.m. in his Pinedale courtroom with 30 minutes set aside.

Protection order(s)

On Oct. 14, Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws heard a request from Wallace for a protection order against Gloria Denava, Leyva’s mother, who came to Sublette County to attend court hearings and support her son.

Judge Haws previously signed a temporary “ex parte” order for Wallace and took each petition separately.

Wallace said he began boarding up windows and installed security cameras in fear of Denava’s arrival, knowing she would come here to support her son.

Denava testified that she never threatened him with physical harm and if someone wanted to hurt Leyva, she would stand up to that person herself.

His affidavit said that he called 911 twice when someone breached his security system. Denava said she could prove it wasn’t her. One alert was someone picking up her son’s cat, she said, after being told Wallace was not feeding it.

Wallace said he wanted to protect his reputation and livelihood from Denava’s “stalking” behavior. He cited the suspicious security alerts, Denava’s three phone calls to him on the day she arrived and her social media posts.

In turn, she said Wallace misrepresented himself and lied about her trespassing on his property.

She said she called him three times after she arrived because the first time, he hung up on her. The second time he did not answer and the third time, she left a message played in the courtroom.

Denava also posted Facebook comments about Wallace, including a legal threat of medical malpractice and that he had “poisoned” her son. She contacted several of Leyva and Wallace’s friends, asking Wallace in court about his faithfulness to his husband with one of them.

Wallace testified that “a friend” with the initials HS visited him at EIRMC and was helping him heal after Leyva’s alleged attack.

“HS” is added to Wallace’s protection order that covers his home, a home under construction next door and the medical clinics where Wallace is employed.

Denava must not contact or post anything about Wallace or HS for three years, the judge ordered.

He declined to approve her protection order request against Wallace.