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Ex-University of Utah football player waives hearing in assault case

Courts » A plea deal may be in the works for Koliniasi “Niasi” Leota, accused of beating, threatening his wife.

By Jessica Miller

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Mar 26 2013 02:16 pm • Last Updated Mar 28 2013 09:09 am

A former University of Utah defensive lineman charged with aggravated assault and kidnapping for allegedly beating and threatening to kill his wife waived his preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court on Tuesday.

Koliniasi "Niasi" Leota is charged with one count each of first-degree felony aggravated assault and kidnapping, and third-degree felony domestic violence in the presence of a child. Four misdemeanor domestic violence charges also were filed.

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Court records indicate that Leota waived his hearing on Tuesday because a plea deal is in the works for the 24-year-old man.

In court papers, Salt Lake County prosecutors contend that Leota punched his wife in the face, causing her to bleed, on Feb. 17 at the couple’s Salt Lake City apartment.

Leota, who is 6-foot-4 and 278 pounds, attacked his wife again in the bathroom, striking her head with a curling iron and a towel rod that he ripped out of the wall and also attempted to stab her with, court papers say. Prosecutors allege Leota wrapped the curling iron cord around his wife’s neck in an effort to choke her and tried to electrocute her by filling the bathtub with water and tossing in the curling iron.

Leota also prevented his wife from leaving the apartment, grabbing her by the hair and dragging her back inside, court papers say.

The alleged assault occurred in front of the couple’s 2-year-old child.

Leota’s wife was able to escape and lock herself in a car when another person arrived at the home with the couple’s two older children.

Leota will appear in court again on April 8 for an arraignment.

Leota, who played in 10 games for the Utes as a junior, was dismissed from the team in February after formal charges were filed.

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Twitter: @jm_miller

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