Woman accused in Rainbow Family stabbing could face more charges, prosecutors say
Geoff Liesik, Deseret News
HEBER CITY — A New Mexico woman accused of stabbing a man at the Rainbow Family Gathering campsite east of Heber City could soon face additional charges for another act of violence, according to prosecutors.
Leilani Novak-Garcia, known to some by her pseudonym "Hitler," made her first appearance Wednesday in 4th District Court where she is charged with attempted murder, a second-degree felony.
Novak-Garcia, 32, was informed of the sole charge pending against her after public defender David VanCampen was appointed as her attorney. When VanCampen told Judge Steven Hansen that he would seek a reduction in Novak-Garcia's $20,000 cash-only bail, prosecutors advised the court that the Las Cruces woman could soon be facing additional charges.
"If we're addressing bail, we'll be asking for more," deputy Wasatch County attorney McKay King said, "because we found out today that in addition to stabbing the victim in the crime charged, she also assaulted another individual with a tire iron."
Three people approached Novak-Garcia's vehicle at the Rainbow Family site about 1:30 a.m. Monday and asked her to stop repeatedly honking the vehicle's horn, according to investigators. Witnesses said she had been honking the horn for about 30 minutes.
When Novak-Garcia refused to stop, one member of the trio — 45-year-old Neil Sparling of Salt Lake — tried to remove a fuse from the vehicle to disable the horn, charging documents state.
Investigators said Novak-Garcia responded by striking one man with a tire iron. She then stabbed Sparling in the head and shoulder with a knife, the charges state. Forest Service rangers told Wasatch County sheriff's deputies they heard a disturbance around the time of the alleged attack that included someone screaming a threat to kill another person.
Deputies and rangers entered the Rainbow Family site and were led to Sparling's camp. Sparling, who was in court Wednesday, provided investigators with a description of his attacker that matched Novak-Garcia's physical appearance and build, court records show.
Novak-Garcia was found just after 7 p.m. Monday in a tent at the Rainbow Family site about 15 miles east of Heber City. She was arrested without incident, according to Wasatch County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Rigby.
The stabbing came one day after authorities responded to the Rainbow Family site for an apparent drug overdose, the chief deputy said. The man in that incident was flown by medical helicopter to a hospital in critical condition but has since been released, Rigby said.
Authorities are also awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine what caused the June 15 death of Susan Wilkinson, 39, of Keene, New Hampshire, at the site of the Rainbow Family's spring council, which was also held in Wasatch County.
The U.S. Forest Service now estimates that nearly 925 people have arrived in the Uinta National Forest for the annual Rainbow Family of Living Light gathering. As many as 20,000 people could show up for the gathering's main event on July 4.
Members of the Rainbow Family have invited the public to an informational meeting Wednesday. The meeting, set to begin at 7 p.m., will be held at the Wasatch County Library/Senior Center building, 465 E. 1200 South.
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: GeoffLiesik
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