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Teen murder suspects enter not-guilty pleas in Pahrump

After addressing a few clerical errors made in Pahrump Justice Court, the arraignment hearing for two brothers arrested on murder charges got underway before Judge Kimberly Wanker in district court.

Michael Wilson and Dakota Saldivar confessed this past summer to stabbing and beating their mother, Dawn Liebig, 46, to death because they did not like her parenting style, Nye County Sheriff’s Office detectives said.

The charges the 17-year-olds are facing include murder, conspiracy to commit murder, domestic battery with a deadly weapon and obstruction, according to authorities.

Change of heart

It should be noted that though the defendants confessed to detectives of their respective roles in the alleged killing just prior to their arrest, both also pleaded not guilty during their arraignment on Oct. 5 in Pahrump.

Though both teens appeared as co-defendants in justice court before Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson, Nye County Deputy District Attorney Michael Vieta-Kabel said the brothers will now be tried separately in district court.

“When you try co-defendants together, it can raise all sorts of issues,” Vieta-Kabel said. “I don’t want to really go into the facts on this particular case, but some of those issues do exist in this case. Both defendants were arraigned and essentially that just means that the judge asks them if they were aware of the charges and understood the charges.”

The wheels of justice

Additionally, Vieta-Kabel said the jury trial for the defendants is scheduled for late 2019.

“Both defendants have a three-week-long trial scheduled for next year,” he said. “It will essentially be three weeks for Mr. Wilson in September, and three weeks in October for Mr. Saldivar. They basically come right on the heels of one another. It is a little ways down the road, but you can never be too meticulous with a case such as this. That seems like a long time, but there’s going to be a lot of evidence. The officers were wearing body cameras and there was a lengthy investigation. We will also have experts such as the medical examiner testifying. It will be a lengthy process but hopefully, justice will be served.”

The deputy district attorney also said he feels the office has a strong case against the defendants to present to the jury.

“Once September and October arrive, I have to make sure I can pick a jury that hasn’t been given too many facts of this case, outside the record,” he said. “It’s important that we can select an unbiased jury.”

Both Saldivar and Wilson were arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 1, after the teens confessed to the murder.

After confessing, the teens led authorities to a shallow grave site not far from the Wedgewood Street residence where their mother’s decomposing body was located, law enforcement reported.

Wilson is represented by attorney Carl Joerger, and Saldivar, is represented by Brett Percival

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com

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