Judge refuses to block testimony in attempted murder trial for man accused of trying to kill Mendon family

LOGAN — A judge has refused to block the testimony of a woman who claims her 65-year-old husband told her, he was going to kill a Mendon family in their home last year. The decision is a blow for the defense of Charles W. Leff, who had argued the woman should be prohibited from testifying because the conversations were made in private.

The decision from Judge Brian Cannell came during an hour long hearing in 1st District Court Wednesday afternoon. It was held in advance of the attempted murder trial, scheduled to begin August 23.

Prosecutors allege, Leff angrily left his Perry home on the morning of Jan. 24, 2020 and drove to Mendon with the plan to kill several family members. He told his wife that he had become enraged that he couldn’t see his grandchildren and were going to murder them. He then packed a suitcase with medication, grabbed four firearms, and told her that she would never see him again.

Cache County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop and took the suspect into custody without incident. Leff admitted to packing a suitcase with clothing, medications and four handguns; he told deputies he was leaving the area to live in Oregon and took the firearms so his wife wouldn’t have access to the guns.

Defense attorney Ryan Holdaway had filed a motion to prohibit Leff’s wife from testifying during the four-day trial. He said state law barred the testimony because it was private dialogue between spouses and didn’t specifically describe the defendant’s intent to kill the victims.

Judge Cannell disagreed and said the woman would be allowed to testify. He explained, the threat seemed to be direct and descriptive enough to show the defendant’s intentions.

Leff sat quietly during the hearing and didn’t speak. He has been charged with five counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; four counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person; and, two counts of tampering with a witness, a third-degree felony. Also, he has been charged with five misdemeanors.

Court records show Leff was previously convicted of sodomy of a child, lewdness of a child, aggravated assault and threatening another person with a weapon. He remains in jail, being held without bail, and could face up to life in prison if convicted on these new charges.

Individuals arrested and charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.


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