Leyva released on bond

SCSO courtesy photo

Sentencing set for May 18

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Nicholas A. Leyva, of Daniel, was released from the Sublette County Detention Center on April 12, after being jailed since last August for assaulting his husband, a local doctor, during a domestic dispute in their Daniel home.

On Sept. 2, 2022, Leyva was charged with committing three felonies against Dr. Steven Buck Wallace on Aug. 31 – aggravated assault and battery, strangulation of a household member by applying “foot to throat” and strangulation of a household member with “arms around neck,” according to court records. Each felony carries maximum terms of 10 years in prison and or $10,000 fines.

Leyva was also charged with domestic battery, a misdemeanor. Sublette County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich added an attempted second-degree murder charge.

On Aug. 5, 2022, Leyva appeared before Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws, who set bond at $500,000 cash or surety and bound the case over to 9th District Court.

In District Court, Leyva pleaded not guilty “by reason of mental illness” to all charges. It had been disclosed in court Wallace allowed Leyva to consume his own prescription of the powerful antipsychotic drug Seroquel. His jury trial was set for May 13.

With attorney Alex Freeburg representing him, Leyva entered into a plea agreement, to plead no contest to the felony strangulation charge and causing Wallace’s head injury. He entered those pleas before new Judge Kate McKay on Feb. 21 and on Feb. 23 she reduced his bond to $100,000 cash or surety, records show.

Leyva had employment and a place to live awaiting, according to court records. Leyva replaced Freeburg with private attorney Elisabeth Trefonas to carry his case through to his May 18 sentencing.

Leyva’s “contested plea agreement is under advisement,” records show.

Freeburg reportedly told Leyva he had to accept the plea agreement by Feb. 13 or the deal would be withdrawn. After his change-of-plea hearing, Judge McKay called the second hearing, not recorded in his file, when both attorneys and the judge met in chambers without Leyva, as he and others waited in the courtroom.

After Leyva hired Trefonas, she sought a bond reduction to $25,000 cash or surety, denied by Judge McKay. Leyva paid the surety amount and left jail.

“Mr. Leyva is exceptionally aware that any failure on release conditions pending sentencing would severely undermine his requests for a lesser sentence under the agreement,” Trefonas wrote in mid-April.

Wallace filed for divorce from Leyva, which is ongoing before Judge McKay as a civil case in 9th District Court.