A no-show by a key FBI agent on Friday led to the continuance of a sentencing hearing for a man charged with perjury related to the Kiplyn Davis disappearance.
David Rucker Leifson appeared in U.S. District Court prepared to face sentencing on one count of perjury but was sent home after U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell said she could not make a decision on a sentencing enhancement without hearing from FBI Special Agent Mike Anderson. Anderson presided over the perjury investigation that led to the indictment of five men for lying to a federal grand jury and the FBI about what they knew regarding Davis' fate.
At the beginning of the hearing Friday, Campbell asked federal prosecutors if Anderson was present to testify about a cross-reference enhancement, which could mean the difference between Leifson serving just over a year or five years in prison.
Prosecutors claim Leifson should serve more prison time because the lies he told were connected to a murder investigation. Federal law provides such an enhancement, which was used to sentence Timmy Brent Olsen to 12 years for perjury. Olsen, along with Christopher Neal Jeppson, also are charged with Davis' murder in state court.
Olsen appealed the use of the cross-reference enhancement to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld his sentence.
Campbell said that, under the Olsen ruling, Leifson's lie would have to be related to the underlying crime of murder, and the government would have to show it obstructed its investigation.
In a plea agreement, Leifson admitted to lying when he denied having two heated arguments with Olsen, furious that Olsen had told others that Leifson was behind Davis' disappearance. According to the indictment against Leifson, two people were witnesses to both confrontations, and a third witness recorded Leifson admitting to having the arguments while wearing a concealed wire.
During Olsen's perjury trial in July 2006, Olsen's former girlfriend testified that while she and Olsen were "dragging" Main Street in Spanish Fork in the summer of 1996, an angry Leifson forced their car off the road. Leifson walked up to their car and warned Olsen to stop telling people that he was involved in Davis' murder and disappearance and that he "better keep his mouth shut," the woman testified.
Campbell said she was struggling with how Leifson's perjury obstructed the Davis investigation and wanted to hear testimony from Anderson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda said Anderson was in West Virginia giving lie-detector tests. Campbell said she made it clear in advance that she wanted to hear Anderson's testimony.
"This is an important matter," she said. "You won't have any evidence to prove your point."
Campbell continued the hearing until next Tuesday and instructed prosecutors to make sure Anderson was available.
Outside of court, Richard Davis said the wheels of justice are slow, but he is confident they ultimately will lead to finding his daughter.
For the past several years, Richard Davis has dedicated himself to attending almost every hearing related to his daughter's disappearance. "I think Rucker had something to do with Kiplyn's disappearance, and I'll leave it at that," he said, adding that he is convinced Leifson knows where his daughter is buried.
Davis vanished from Spanish Fork High School in 1995. Investigators believe she was taken up Spanish Fork Canyon, where she was raped, murdered and buried in an unmarked grave. Her body never has been found.
A few weeks ago, officials in Utah County revived the search for the girl's body.
Leaving the courthouse Friday with family members and supporters, Leifson said he would not talk about the case.Also outside of court, Esqueda said it's hard to see how Leifson's perjury did not obstruct the investigation, and he will argue such in court next week.