Judge refuses to dismiss drug charges in attempted murder trial for man accused of trying to kill Mendon family

Gavel. Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

LOGAN — A judge has refused to dismiss a portion of the criminal case against a 65-year-old Perry man, accused of travelling to Mendon to try and kill some of his family. The decision clears the way for Charles W. Leff’s attempted murder trial to begin later this month.

Leff participated in an evidentiary hearing in 1st District Court Thursday morning, appearing by web conference from the Cache County Jail. 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 three drug misdemeanors.

Public defender Ryan Holdaway had filed a motion, asking the court to drop the drug charges. He argued, Leff’s medical records showed he had lower chronic back pain and was taking marijuana for pain management.

Cache County Deputy Attorney Barbara Lachmar said despite Leff’s medical condition, none of the medical records showed he was prescribed THC. She also had a member of the Drug Strike Force testify that the marijuana seized during Leff’s arrest doesn’t comply with the new medical marijuana laws.

After a brief recess, Judge Brian Cannell ruled that Leff had not provided sufficient evidence to show it was legal for him to be in possession of marijuana. He said the lack of any doctor’s prescription was the deciding factor.

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.

The decision from Judge Cannell Thursday comes two weeks before Leff’s attempted murder trial is scheduled to begin. The four day jury trial starts August 23.

In July, the court refused to block the testimony of Leff’s wife after Holdaway argued that comments between the couple was private 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.

Leff is also suspected of making several phone calls from jail to a friend. During the conversations, he asked the man to contact his wife and encourage her to recant her statements to law enforcement. He is charged with two counts of tampering with a witness, a third-degree felony; and two charges of violating a protective order, a class A misdemeanor, in a separate case that has not been scheduled for trial yet.

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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