“Shaky and nervous” is how Detective Logan Gibbs described the demeanor of Michael Wilson, who along with his brother, Dakota Saldivar, were arrested on murder charges in late July.
Gibbs, who spoke with Wilson, was one of several individuals who testified on the witness stand during last week’s preliminary hearing before Judge Kent Jasperson at Pahrump Justice Court.
Nye County Sheriff’s deputies said Wilson and Saldivar, both eventually confessed to stabbing and beating their mother, Dawn Liebig, 46, to death because they did not like her parenting style, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
The deadly attack
The July 31 stabbing and bludgeoning attack lasted for nearly a half-hour while Liebig fought for her life, Saldivar told investigators, according to the arrest report.
Saldivar also indicated that Liebig finally stopped fighting back when he got through her skull with the hammer, according to the arrest report.
“They then took Dawn’s body in her own 2001 Ford Explorer to the desert and buried her,” the arrest report stated.
After confessing, the teens led authorities to a shallow gravesite where their mother’s decomposing body was located, law enforcement reported.
During testimony last week, prosecutors played Gibbs’ body camera recording of the detective who was speaking to Wilson:
“I didn’t want to do it at first, but I was like, all right, all right,” Wilson was heard telling the detective.
Though Liebig was initially reported missing from her Wedgewood Street home on July 30, Wilson’s story began changing as detectives were speaking to the teens.
The boys first told detectives that their mother had disappeared and that they had not heard from her, but detectives determined there were inconsistencies in their stories as they continued to question the boys.
The arrest report also noted that Saldivar and Wilson changed their stories and told investigators that Liebig was suicidal and wanted their help in killing herself, by stabbing her to death at her request.
Wilson later told authorities that it was actually his brother Dakota’s plan to kill their mother, according to the body camera audio.
While sobbing, Wilson continued to tell the detectives that he was “so sorry.”
The investigation revealed that both teens waited until Liebig fell asleep before they attacked her, the arrest report indicated.
In the body cam audio played in court, Wilson also told authorities that he began the attack by stabbing Liebig in the neck. “She started screaming, ‘No,’” Wilson was heard telling detectives. “She was like, no, no, no. I think she said it three or four times. I did feel really bad for doing it. I really did, but I didn’t stop.”
Additionally in the audio, Wilson told authorities that his brother hit Liebig on the head with a hammer about 20 times.
When asked whether his mother was still responsive while the attack continued, Wilson’s reply was “yes.”
“He used the hammer to hit her several times until he hit her so hard the hammer flew out of his hand,” Wilson noted in the audio. “Then that’s when he pulled out the knife and started stabbing her in the back of the neck.”
While speaking to Saldivar, he too insisted that his mother was missing, until he learned that Wilson had already confessed to authorities.
“We got fed up with her because it was just nonstop yelling, screaming, you know,” Saldivar was heard telling detectives. “I was thinking that the hammer would go through and puncture the brain and that she would just be out. But, of course, those things didn’t go as planned. She fought.”
Mother cries out for help
Additionally, Saldivar described the half-hour attack on his mother, during which she called out for her sons to help, as she did not realize that it was her sons attacking her.
Also during last week’s hearing prosecutors Michael Vieta-Kabell and Patrick Ferguson brought in Liebig’s 73-year-old mother Donna to testify on the witness stand.
She told the courtroom that Wilson was actually adopted by her daughter and moved into the Wedgewood Street residence roughly five years ago.
“She gave him a home when he needed it,” Liebig said. “He didn’t have anyplace to go.”
As the body camera footage was being viewed by those in the courtroom, both teens sat expressionless next to their respective defense attorneys.
The teens are facing charges of open murder, conspiracy to commit murder and domestic battery with a deadly weapon, according to the sheriff’s office.
A posting on Dawn Liebig’s Facebook page read, “I’m a mom that hopes she did okay. I want my boys to become the men I hoped for. I live for them.”
Wilson is being represented by Carl Joerger, while Saldivar’s attorney is Harry Gensler.
The preliminary hearing continues at 10 a.m., Thursday morning, Sept. 6, in Pahrump Justice Court to determine whether the case will be bound up to district court for trial.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes.