SUBLETTE COUNTY – A California woman who moved here several months ago to help her son had her own felony charge – alleging she mailed illegal THC products to him last year – bound over to 9th District Court on Jan. 17.
Gloria T. DeNava, of Idyllwild, Calif., came to Pinedale last September after her son Nicholas A. Leyva, of Daniel, was charged with felony attempted-murder and aggravated assault against his husband, Dr. Steven “Buck” Wallace, during an Aug. 31 domestic dispute, records show.
And although Sublette County drug detective Toby Terrell testified at her Jan. 17 preliminary hearing before Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws that her case was “unrelated” to her son’s case, the two were presented as intertwined.
Leyva’s phone was searched twice, once in September and again Nov. 30 by him, Terrell testified. DeNava was charged Dec. 22 with an affidavit written that day by Terrell after Sublette County Detective Travis Lanning told him about apparent THC-related texts between mother and son.
Wallace had returned home from an Idaho Falls hospital after the alleged assault and told Lanning on Sept. 5 that he just found “more items” at the home, an affidavit says.
Wallace had driven to his next-door neighbor’s home on Rendezvous Drive in Daniel before collapsing, asking to be life-flighted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where he was hospitalized for several days, records show.
Lanning testified at Leyva’s preliminary hearing that he searched the couple’s home Sept. 1 after Leyva’s arrest and found marijuana paraphernalia and two prescription drugs belonging to Wallace. Wallace told Lanning he let Leyva take one, the powerful antipsychotic Seroquel, that was prescribed to Wallace, he said.
Leyva pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness to his charges and his case was suspended on Nov. 4 after now-retired 9th District Judge Marv Tyler ordered a mental evaluation. Newly installed Judge Kate McKay will preside over both DeNava’s and Leyva’s cases.
Sublette County Deputy Attorney Adrian Kowalski called Terrell to the stand on Jan. 17 to outline the investigation against DeNava. It began when Lanning read text messages between Leyva and DeNava as he searched Leyva’s phone, with a warrant, for evidence against Leyva.
Lanning was not called as a witness and did not attend the hearing.
Lanning observed texts about “green” and THC edibles that he later referred to Terrell, along with photos he took of marijuana and THC products that Wallace said he found in his home, Terrell said.
Terrell did not know when Lanning first searched Leyva’s phone and said he got a warrant for it on Nov. 30; texts he found suspicious went back months, he said.
On Sept. 5, Wallace also gave Lanning a flattened empty box reportedly sent by DeNava to Leyva on Aug. 22, that arrived at the Daniel home a week later. Lanning gave that to Terrell as well, he said.
Terrell testified that green plant material Wallace “retrieved” for Lanning lab-tested positive for THC.
Public defender Rachel Weksler, representing DeNava, had several questions for Terrell.
“The box was flattened,” she said. “You don’t know what was in the box?”
She asked of Lanning’s Sept. 1 search, “Did Detective Lanning do a thorough investigation and search of the (couple’s) residence?”
“I would say yes,” Terrell said, although he was not there.
“Where did (Lanning) find the ‘substances’ that day,” she asked him of that initial search.
Terrell said Lanning found a bong and grinder in a wooden dresser; whether or not that was in “a common area,” Terrell said, “You’ll have to ask Detective Lanning.”
“Yes. He’s not here,” Weksler said.
She verified with Terrell that Wallace called Lanning back to his home Sept. 5 to hand over what “Detective Lanning did not find in his search.”
Wallace discovered the additional marijuana and THC in containers in his refrigerator, Terrell said.
Were they fingerprinted, Weksler asked.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Terrell said.
Kowalski asked Terrell if Wallace said where the alleged THC items came from.
“(Wallace) said they were sent by Miss DeNava by mail.”
Kowalski told Judge Haws all were met.
“I think we have some text messages and I think we have an empty box,” Weksler said.
DeNava paid her $5,000 cash-only bond after she was booked Dec. 22 and at her initial appearance, Magistrate Chris Leigh left the original bond conditions in place.
Weksler cited DeNava’s need for medical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and her insurance plan doesn’t transfer to Wyoming; would the judge allow her to go to California for treatment?
Judge Haws said he would leave that question for Judge McKay.
DeNava is not a flight risk because she is in Pinedale to support her son, Weksler said.
Leyva remains unable to meet Judge Tyler’s $100,000 cash-only bond. Judge Haws agreed that he didn’t see her as “a significant risk to the community” as long as Leyva is in jail.
However, another condition was to have no contact with Leyva, Weksler said.
“Would you consider rewording that so they can talk – anything between the two would be recorded.”
Judge Haws modified his order so Leyva and DeNava can talk “but not about these allegations.”
DeNava thanked him: “I would trade places with my son in a heartbeat.”
Judge Haws then bound her case over to 9th District Court, where DeNava will be arraigned before Judge McKay.