Perry man confesses to attempting to murder Mendon family

Booking photo for Charles W. Leff (Courtesy: Cache County Jail)

LOGAN — A 65-year-old Perry man has pleaded guilty to attempting to kill some of his family in Mendon. Charles W. Leff accepted a plea deal days before he was going to trial.

Leff participated in a virtual hearing in 1st District Court Wednesday morning, appearing by web conference from the Cache County Jail. He pleaded guilty to two amended counts of attempted murder, a first degree felony.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped 14 remaining charges against Leff. They also recommended the crimes be served concurrently, when sentencing takes place.

Early on the morning of Jan. 24, 2020, Leff angrily left his Perry home 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.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Cache County Deputy Attorney Barbara Lachmar said there were two loaded handguns in the car when Leff was pulled over. Considering the firearms and statements made to Leff’s wife, the defendant intended to kill his family.

Leff spoke only briefly during Wednesday’s hearing, telling the court he was willing to waive his rights to a fair trial and plead guilty. He did not provide any explanation about what led to his actions.

The plea deal came days after the court refused to drop some of the charges against Leff or block Leff’s wife from testifying. It cancels the four day jury trial, scheduled to begin Aug. 23.

Judge Brian Cannell accepted Leff’s plea deal and scheduled sentencing for Oct. 20.  He ordered a presentence report to be compiled about the defendant’s criminal history before then.

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 at October’s sentencing.

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