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Man who stabbed Duchesne High student sentenced to prison

DUCHESNE — A man who stabbed a classmate at Duchesne High School, hit his own sister with a hammer and started a fire in an unoccupied trailer home in separate incidents pleaded guilty but mentally ill Monday and was sentenced to prison.

However, Leland Patrick King, 19, will likely be housed at the Utah State Hospital under the sentence handed down by Judge Samuel Chiara.

Citing the findings of three mental competency evaluations, Chiara ruled that King poses a danger to himself and the public due to mental illness. The judge ordered the state Department of Human Services to evaluate King and find the facility that will best protect the public and provide King with treatment.

"I'm worried about your health and safety, Mr. King," Chiara said. "You do appear to pose some risk to those around you. I'm deeply troubled by the risk you pose to the community and yourself whenever you are released."

King and a 17-year-old classmate got into a physical altercation on the Duchesne High School football field in May 2014, after a name-calling incident during gym class.

The gym teacher and other students separated the pair and both were told to report to the office, charging documents state. King, who was 18 at the time, went into the locker room to change, followed by the younger teen.

Inside the locker room, King stabbed the other student three times, breaking a bone in the victim's arm and causing one of his lungs to collapse, court records show.

In August 2014, while out on bail in the stabbing case, King assaulted his older sister during an argument over farm chores, according to charging documents. The woman told deputies King grabbed and pushed her during the argument, then picked up a nearby hammer and struck her in the leg, causing her to collapse.

Then in March — while out of jail again — King and his girlfriend poured linseed oil around an unoccupied trailer and lit several matches that they found inside the trailer, according to court records.

"They didn't believe there was a fire at the time (they left the trailer)," Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote told Chiara. "Within minutes after they left, the building was on fire."

King entered no-contest pleas in December to aggravated assault on school premises, a second-degree felony, and aggravated domestic violence assault, a class A misdemeanor. Those pleas were amended to guilty but mentally ill Monday, and King entered identical pleas to charges of reckless burning and criminal mischief, both class B misdemeanors, for the trailer fire.

Donna King asked the judge not to send her son to prison, but to allow him to stay at home. She said he has been taking new medication since the fire and receiving services from the Department of Human Services.

"He's never been in trouble when he's been with us," Donna King said.

Leland King has a diminished mental capacity and has a musculoskeletal disorder that makes him physically weaker than other people his age, his mother said, and those disabilities made him a target for bullying at Duchesne High.

Chiara said while he appreciated the information King's mother provided the court, "that doesn't allay all of my concerns." He scheduled a review hearing in 18 months to reevaluate King's sentence.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik