Hammer. Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash
LOGAN – A judge has refused to drop part of the criminal case against a 65-year-old Perry man who is accused of traveling to Mendon to try to kill part of his family. The decision paves the way for the attempted murder trial of Charles W. Leff, which can begin later this month.
Leff attended an evidence hearing in the 1st District Court Thursday morning and appeared via web conference from the Cache County Jail. He was charged with attempted murder on five counts, a first-degree crime; quadruple possession of a firearm by a restricted person; and three drug offenses.
Public defender Ryan Holdaway had filed a motion asking the court to drop the drug abuse charges. He argued Leff’s medical records showed he suffered from chronic back pain and was taking marijuana to treat pain.
Cache County’s assistant attorney Barbara Lachmar said that despite Leff’s health, none of the medical records showed that he was prescribed THC. She also had a member of the Drug Strike Force testify that the marijuana seized during Leff’s arrest did not comply with new medical marijuana laws.
After a brief hiatus, Judge Brian Cannell ruled that Leff had not produced sufficient evidence to show that it was legal to possess marijuana. He said the lack of a doctor’s prescription was the determining factor.
Prosecutors allege Leff left his home in Perry angry on the morning of Jan. 24, 2020 and drove to Mendon with a plan to kill several family members. He told his wife that he was angry because he could not see his grandchildren and was going to murder them. Then he packed a suitcase of medicine, grabbed four guns, and told her she would never see him again.
The Cache County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic control and detained the suspect without incident. Leff admitted having packed a suitcase with clothes, medicines and four small arms; He told MPs he was leaving the area to live in Oregon and took the guns with him so his wife would not have access to the guns.
Judge Cannell’s decision on Thursday comes two weeks before the planned murder attempt against Leff. The four-day judging process begins on August 23.
In July, the court refused to block Leff’s wife’s testimony after Holdaway argued that the comments between the couple were private and did not specifically describe the defendant’s intent to kill the victims. Judge Cannell disagreed and said the woman would be allowed to testify.
Leff is also suspected of making multiple phone calls to a friend from prison. During the talks, he asked the man to contact his wife and encourage her to retract what she said to law enforcement agencies. He is charged with tampering with a witness on two counts, a third-degree crime; and two charges of violating a protection order, a class A regulatory offense, in a separate case that has not yet been set for trial.
Court records show that Leff was previously convicted of sodomy a child, fornication of a child, aggravated assault and threatening another person with a gun. He remains in prison, is being held without bail and faces a life sentence if convicted on these new charges.
Individuals arrested and charged in a complaint are presumed innocent unless their guilt has been clearly established in court.