Sunday, February 24, 2013

Utah Utes football player dismissed from team after beating wife with curling iron

University of Utah defensive lineman Niasi Leota has been dismissed from the Utes football program after being charged with beating and threatening to kill his wife in front of their children.

On Friday, Leota was charged with felony counts of aggravated assault, kidnapping, and domestic violence in the presence of a child. Additionally, the 24-year-old also faces four misdemeanor charges of domestic violence.

The charges stem from an incident on Feb. 17 when Leota allegedly punched his wife in the head and face, struck her in the head with a curling iron, and then attempted to strangle her with the iron's cords. The incident occurred at the couple's apartment complex in Salt Lake City.

More on the story from the Deseret News:
Leota also "attempted to fill the bathtub with water to electrocute the victim with the curling iron," a Salt Lake County Jail report states. 
The woman told police that each time she tried to run out the door, Leota would grab her by the hair and drag her back inside. Prosecutors say the couple's 2-year-old child was present during the assault. 
A friend arrived with their two older children, ages 3 and 4, during the ordeal and the mother ran outside and got into the car with them, locking the door. A police officer reported seeing Leota standing outside the car threatening to smash the windows and saying, "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to fly to Hawaii and kill your family."
"We will do everything we can to help Niasi and his family get through this situation, but obviously we do not tolerate this kind of behavior," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement.

Leota, a Utah native, appeared in 10 games as a junior last season for the Utes. He previously spent two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College.

His bail has been set at $250,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.


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