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Judge calls for arrest of ex-University of Utah football player

Published July 30, 2013 5:12 pm

Courts • Ex-Ute failed to show up to sentencing for assaulting his wife in front of 2-year-old.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A judge called for the arrest of an ex-University of Utah defensive lineman Monday after the former football player failed to show up to court for abusing his wife in the presence of their child.

Koliniasi "Niasi" Leota, 24, was scheduled to be sentenced Monday for third-degree felony domestic violence in the presence of a child, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years in the Utah State Prison.

But when the time came, he was nowhere to be found.

It was strike three for Leota, who also missed a court date in June and failed to report to the Adult Probation and Parole board in July to assist them in making recommendations for his sentencing.

Third District Judge Randall Skanchy issued a warrant for Leota's arrest and set bail at $25,000 to prevent Leota from escaping once he is found.

Leota pleaded guilty to the domestic-violence charge in June in exchange for more leniency from the court.

He was originally charged with six other charges, including felony aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. If Leota was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, he could have faced up to life behind bars.

Prosecutors have alleged that Leota, who is 6-foot-4 and 278 pounds, hit his wife in the face on Feb. 17 at the couple's Salt Lake City apartment. The woman began to bleed after she was punched, officials said.

Leota attacked his wife again in the bathroom, according to charging documents, striking her head with a curling iron and a towel rod that he ripped from the wall and also used to try to stab her.

According to court documents, Leota wrapped the curling iron around his wife's neck in an effort to strangle her. When that didn't work, the documents state, he tried to electrocute her by filling the bathtub with water and tossing in the curling iron.

Leota's wife tried to flee the apartment during the assault, but, prosecutors alleged, he dragged her back inside. The couple's 2-year-old witnessed the attack.

Eventually, Leota's wife made her escape by locking herself in a car when another person arrived at the home with the couple's two older children.

Leota was dismissed from the Utes football team in February after charges were filed. He had played in 10 games as a junior.

Defense attorney Raymond Shuey declined to comment about Leota's case.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: marissa_jae