Ex-U. football player offered plea deal in beating, kidnapping of wife
SALT LAKE CITY — A former University of Utah football player accused of attacking his wife waived his right to a hearing on the evidence against him Tuesday because he's been offered a plea bargain.
Koliniasi Mona Leota, 25, is charged with three felonies and four misdemeanors, accused of kidnapping and brutally attacking his wife in front of their children. The proposed plea deal would allow him to plead guilty in abeyance to three class A misdemeanors, defense attorney Josie Brumfield told 3rd District Judge Robert Faust.
Prosecutor Nathaniel Sanders said he had talked to the victim, who was present at Tuesday's hearing, and indicated that she was informed of the offer and does not have an issue with it.
Leota is charged with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, and domestic violence in the presence of a child, a third-degree felony. He was also charged with four class B misdemeanors: threat of violence and three counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child.
The charges stem from a Feb. 17 incident at the couple's Salt Lake apartment. Leota became angry and punched his wife in the head and face, charges filed in 3rd District Court state.
While she was in the bathroom cleaning up, the 6-foot 4-inch, 278-pound man hit her in the head with a curling iron, then wrapped the iron's cords around his hands and tried to strangle her, the charging documents state. He then allegedly ripped a towel bar from the wall, hit her in the head with it and tried to stab her in the throat with the broken end.
The woman told police that each time she tried to run out the door, Leota would grab her by the hair and drag her back inside. Prosecutors say the couple's 2-year-old child was present during the assault.
A friend arrived with their two older children, ages 3 and 4, during the ordeal and the mother ran outside and got into the car with them, locking the door. A police officer reported seeing Leota standing outside the car threatening to smash the windows and saying, "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to fly to Hawaii and kill your family."
Leota was released from jail after Judge Randall Skanchy authorized a pretrial release. Court records indicate that Leota's wife now lives out of state and she did not oppose his release.
Leota decided to forgo his preliminary hearing after being offered the plea agreement. A plea in abeyance allows a defendant to enter a guilty plea that is held in abeyance for a certain amount of time. As long as the defendant commits no other criminal violations during that time period, the charge will be dismissed.
An arraignment has been set for April 8.
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