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Nye County man who entered into plea agreement for second degree murder tests positive for COVID-19

Updated July 22, 2020 - 7:00 am

The sentencing hearing for a Pahrump man who entered into a guilty plea agreement on charges, including second-degree murder, has been continued.

Michael Wilson, who confessed to his role in the murder of his mother, Dawn Liebig, 46, back in July 2018, is now scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, August 14 after it was discovered this month that he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Wilson was to appear at 9 a.m. Friday, July 17 before Nye County Fifth District Court Judge Kimberly Wanker.

The basis of the matter was contained in a Stipulation to Continue Sentencing Hearing document obtained from the Nye County Clerk’s Office, dated July 15.

“Late last week, defense counsel learned that Mr. Wilson has tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus and is currently being quarantined in the Tonopah Detention Center,” the document stated. “As such, and to prevent the further spread of the Novel Coronavirus, the parties are stipulating to continue the defendant’s sentencing hearing.”


Wilson, along with his half-brother Dakota Saldivar, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon in the July 2018 slaying of their adoptive mother, Dawn Liebig, 46.

After initially deciding to face a trial, Saldivar appeared before Judge Wanker for a change of plea hearing back in May, where he also entered into a guilty plea agreement with prosecutors.

Both defendants, who were 17 at the time of the killing, confessed to stabbing and beating their adoptive mother to death because they did not like her parenting style, according to investigators.

Saldivar and Wilson were arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 1, 2018 after the confession.

Additionally, both defendants led authorities to a shallow grave site not far from the Wedgewood Street residence, where their mother’s decomposing body was located, investigators said.

Sentencing options

In regard to sentencing options during a May 11 hearing, Wanker noted that there were only two sentences for second-degree murder that the court can impose, that being life with the possibility of parole, with parole eligibility beginning when a minimum of 10 years has been served, or a definite term of 25 years, with parole eligibility beginning with a minimum of 10 years served.

“If the court were to sentence you to the maximum on use of a deadly weapon enhancement, it would be eight to 20 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections,” she said. “If the court sentenced you first on the second-degree murder, the court will then sentence you on a consecutive enhancement. If I maxed you out, it would mean that you would have to serve a minimum term in the Nevada Department of Corrections, of at least 18 years before you would be eligible for parole.”

Additionally, Wanker said the penalty for the use of a deadly weapon enhancement charge could range from one to 20 years.

“What will happen is, at the time of sentencing, the court will actually have a hearing during the sentencing and look at the different factors that I am required to examine pursuant to the statute and then I will make a decision.”

Though Wilson’s aforementioned sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 14, Wanker scheduled Saldivar’s sentencing date for Friday Sept. 11, at 9 a.m.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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