Mother fighting Wallace’s attempt to ban her

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DeNava plans to attend son Leyva’s sentencing

SUBLETTE COUNTY – A mother has the right to stand up for her child. A victim has the right to attend court hearings and observe the judicial process against the accused.

However, the battle between Gloria DeNava, mother of Nicholas A. Leyva, and his estranged husband, Dr. Steven Buck Wallace, is reaching back and forth between Sublette County Circuit Court and the higher 9th District Court.

Leyva was arrested and charged with felony aggravated assaults, strangulation and attempted second-degree murder of Wallace on Aug. 31, at their Daniel home.

Detective Travis Lanning testified at Leyva’s preliminary Circuit Court hearing before Judge Curt Haws that Wallace admitted he let Leyva consume his own prescription for the “powerful antipsychotic Seroquel.”

Marijuana was also found in the home and spawned new charges against Leyva and DeNava; Wallace told the Pinedale Roundup he “never had marijuana” in his home. 

Change of plea

Leyva faced a March 13 trial that was vacated after Sublette County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich and then-defense attorney Alex Freeburg crafted an agreement for Leyva to change his not guilty pleas in 9th District Court to “no contest” to two felony assault charges, the rest expected to be dismissed by recently installed Judge Kate McKay.

Leyva’s “cold” plea agreement does not include sentencing recommendations from either prosecution or defense. Defense attorney Elisabeth Trefonas will represent Leyva at sentencing.

DeNava attended of her son’s two change-of-plea hearings in February, both of which Wallace attended as the alleged victim.

After the second hearing, Wallace filed a civil contempt complaint in Circuit Court against DeNava, saying her attendance at Leyva’s hearing was voluntary and violated the court’s order to protect him from her.

SCHD ban

Last week, newly installed Circuit Court Judge John LaBuda set the DeNava-Wallace protection order hearing for March 14, changed to Thursday, March 16, when Wallace’s attorney cited another appointment. March 16 was also the day when DeNava finally arranged a doctor’s appointment in Rock Springs to continue treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Earlier, DeNava consulted with a specialist at the Pinedale Medical Clinic, where Judge Haws had advised her to not go as Wallace’s place of employment. In that first hearing, she admitted going to the clinic to set up RA treatment and to take her ill husband, having called to determine Wallace was not there, she testified.

However, Wallace cited these visits as violations and Judge Haws agreed, sentencing her to 10 days in jail, suspended, ordering her to not go to either county clinic for anything other than genuine risk to loss of life or limb, records show.

He joked that Wallace would have to fulfill “his Hippocratic oath” in that circumstance.

Wallace also accused DeNava of using a body cam for surveillance in the clinic, which she admitted wearing but denied using, and Judge Haws noted, “No proof.”

However, Sublette County Hospital District Medical Director Dr. David Burnett prohibited DeNava from entering clinic property due to her “surveillance,” his letter says.

Judge Haws advised her to seek health care in another community, which for DeNava turned out to be Rock Springs on March 16, proposed for her second protection order hearing. 

Harassing her

In this motion, Wallace seeks to have DeNava found guilty of contempt of court and prevented from attending Leyva’s March 23 sentencing, at which he will also be present, records show.

In her handwritten March 10 response, DeNava provided her schedule and asked for her hearing to be postponed until after March 25. She asked for time to prepare her defense against Wallace’s claims.

“This court has violated my rights over and over and sided with Wallace and his lies, which I can prove are lies,” she wrote. “Wallace has continually been allowed to harass and threaten me via this judicial system. It needs to stop. Your system has the power to protect me from this crazy individual Wallace. Please do so. Thank you.

“I’m in my room, only leaving to go to market and post office for fear of running into that nut,” she wrote, adding to her knowledge they have only seen each other in the Pinedale courtrooms.

Wallace responded that would not be appropriate because DeNava was already stating her intent to voluntarily attend her son’s sentencing, records show. 


Wallace sought a protection order in Circuit Court against DeNava before she arrived in Pinedale from Idyllwild, Calif., to support her son and question Wallace’s true relationship with Leyva. When she arrived to see Leyva at the Sublette County Jail last September, she was served with a temporary restraining order, records show.

Wallace then sought a permanent protection order from Judge Haws, while DeNava requested one against Wallace. The judge sided with Wallace, who has twice brought Leyva’s mother into court with alleged violations.

The Wallace-DeNava protection-order hearing in Circuit Court is now set for Monday, March 20, at 1:30 p.m.