John Leleae, the last of three defendants accused in a road-rage attack on a motorist, has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for aggravated assault.
Because Leleae, 25, joined the other two defendants in beating the victim, 3rd District Judge Tyrone Medley tacked on a gang enhancement that requires the defendant to serve a minimum of six years behind bars.The attack on Kenny Brems came as he was driving to his home in West Valley City last May.
A passenger in a car behind him began firing shots.
The assailants claimed Brems had tailgated them after they cut him off in traffic. He denied it.
After the shots were fired, Brems, afraid for his life, backed his pickup truck into the car in the hope of disabling their vehicle. Instead, he disabled his own vehicle. He jumped out and fled. His assailants struck him with their car, piled out and beat him, breaking his jaw.
Leleae's attorney, Lisa Remal, contends the sentence imposed against her client Monday was harsher than that for the other two although his role was less culpable.
In December, Edwin Seamanu, 24, and his brother, Viliamu Seamanu Jr., 26, were sentenced to one to 15 years in prison. Edwin Seamanu admitted firing three shots from a .44-caliber Magnum revolver at Brems and pleaded guilty to second-degree felony attempted murder. Viliamu Sea-ma-nu admitted beating Brems and pleaded guilty to second-degree felony aggravated assault.
Leleae maintains he was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time." He said he met the Seamanu brothers that night and was with them because they had offered him a ride. Leleae denies beating Brems and in fact claims he tried to stop the fight.
However, several witnesses said they saw Leleae pummeling Brems.
Leleae said he feels betrayed by Brems and others who testified during his November trial. "I try to protect the victim as best I can," Leleae said Monday. "And now the victim is spitting on my helping hands."
Prosecutor Cy Castle said Le-leae's attitude shows he is unrepentant and deserving of a longer prison term.
"He accuses the victim and witnesses of doing something wrong to him," Castle said. "That makes him different than the Seamanus. They (pleaded guilty) and accepted responsibility."
Another difference is that when Leleae moved to Utah, he violated his parole in California, where he had two felony robbery convictions - an armed robbery and a purse snatch.
Medley agreed that Leleae's prior convictions were aggravating factors, which justified the additional six-year gang enhancement. In addition, when Leleae finishes his Utah time, he must serve one year in California for violating his parole.