A St. Maries man was sentenced to three years in prison for the New Year’s Day assault on his stepfather.
Derek Leeds, age 30, was charged with aggravated battery, in January, after he broke into his mother’s home and attacked his stepfather, William Taylor, New Year’s Day.
When deputies arrived on scene, Mr. Taylor was laying on the ground, in front of the home, with lacerations to his face and ear, unable to immediately recall what occurred. He required hospitalization for his injuries.
At the time, Mr. Leeds claimed that he acted in self-defense according to the Benewah County Sheriff’s deputy report. However, in August, Mr. Leeds pleaded guilty to his actions and at sentencing, Oct. 9, 2020, expressed his remorse.
“I’ve been suffering from the result of my actions and my drug use and I feel nothing but sorrow and regret and sadness for what has happened. If I could say one thing I would like to address my father at some time and tell him how much I love him and how sorry I am,” Mr. Leeds said.
Mr. Leeds underwent hospitalization and mental health evaluations that determined he suffers from visual and auditory hallucinations even absent of drug use. Public Defender Brian Horrocks said that Mr. Leeds resorted to drug use as a means of self-medication for his mental health.
“He was still suffering auditory and visual hallucinations 53 days into custody...as a result of that he was effectively self-medicating because he believed methamphetamine and other drugs were helping him,” Mr. Horrocks said.
Based on Mr. Leeds mental health and drug use, the defense sought probation and rehabilitation.
County Prosecutor Brian Thie sought a sentence of 15 years, seven fixed and eight indeterminate based on Mr. Leeds’ history of violence.
“…based upon the increasingly violent nature of Mr. Leeds and looking at the prior record, in about 2013 we start seeing domestic violence and assaults in Spokane, and assaults just last year. His prior sentence was for the battery of an officer…this is not a case of drugs, your Honor, that may be collateral but this is a case of violence” Mr. Thie said.
Judge Scott Wayman agreed that Mr. Leeds posed a threat to society but decided on a shorter prison sentence factoring in his mental health and display of remorse.
“I can’t ignore the basic facts of this case that you committed a very dangerous act…The state is convinced that if I release you on probation you will pose a threat to the public,” Judge Wayman said. “I don’t think probation is appropriate at this time. I think rehabilitation needs to take place in a secure environment.”
Judge Wayman imposed a 10 year sentence, 3 years fixed, 7 years indeterminate, with credit for time served including time spent in the state hospital. The judge also maintained jurisdiction over the case to allow time for restitution to be sought by the victims.
“I have given myself over to God. And I am hoping and praying for some help,” Mr. Leeds said.