Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

Leyva bound over on felony conspiracy charge

 

September 2, 2017



WORLAND – Daniel Leyva, 31, of Worland, was bound over to Fifth Judicial District Court this week after a preliminary hearing on charges of conspiracy in connection with a drug overdose death in Worland in September of 2016, according to a release by the Washakie County Attorney’s Office.

The charging documents state that Leyva conspired with his brother, Joseph Leyva, 28, to involve a third person to become an accessory after the fact for the crime of involuntary manslaughter. According to the affidavit, Clayton McCreery, 21, was with Daniel Leyva outside of the Leyva residence at 501 Howell Ave. when Daniel Leyva received a phone call from Joseph Leyva who was in the house at the time.

According to the County Attorney’s press release, McCreery told police that when they went into the home’s basement, Robert Kulze, 30, was on the floor. He said that both Daniel and Joseph Leyva were in panics and he just wanted to leave. He stated that Daniel Leyva told him, “You’re in this now” and had him carry Kulze to his home at 504 Obie Sue. Once McCreery put Kulze down, he left. He stated that the next day, Daniel told him, “You know not to talk, right?”

The Leyvas are alleged to have staged the scene in Kulze’s home to make it appear that he died of an overdose there, according to the County Attorney’s Office.

Both Leyvas were already in the custody of Washakie County when charges were filed in the death of Kulze, resulting from a month-long investigation by the Washakie County Sheriff’s Office, on charges of conspiring together with intent to deliver a controlled substance, classified as a Schedule 1 drug (heroin).

According to court documents, Joseph Leyva, on or between July 18, 2016 and December 14, 2016, allegedly travelled to Utah several times to purchase heroin for resale in Washakie County. During the county’s investigation, it was discovered that Leyva also allegedly recruited brother Daniel Leyva to help transport and distribute the drug.

After a warrant seizure of Joseph Leyva’s cellular phone records, and witness testimony, it was verified that Leyva had been in contact with Sarasota Springs, Utah, resident Dustin Ray Teeples (previously charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in in May 2016).

Leyva’s phone records indicated several text messages with Teeples, Daniel Leyva, and others regarding the suspected sale of the narcotics, prompting an arrest warrant request from the Washakie County Sheriff’s Office.

Daniel Leyva was originally charged with a misdemeanor in the case, but the Washakie County Attorney’s office amended the charges. He now faces up to three years in prison and a fine up to $3,000 for his alleged role.

“After completing the investigative process, we believe that these are the appropriate charges for Daniel Leyva’s involvement in the moments during and/or immediately after Robert Kulze’s fatal heroin overdose,” said Washakie County Attorney John Worrall.

Daniel Leyva is also facing felony charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries up to a 20-year prison sentence and up to a $25,000 fine. He is currently being held in the Washakie County Jail on a concurrent $25,000 cash or surety bond, according to the Washakie County Attorney’s Office press release.

Joseph Leyva has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly supplying the fatal dose of heroin to Kulze and not assisting him when he overdosed. That charge carries up to a 20-year sentence and a fine up to $10,000. Joseph Leyva is also facing federal drug trafficking charges and is currently being held in Cheyenne.

“We are watching the federal case very closely,” said Worrall in the release. “Often, the enhancements for manslaughter in a federal case will provide longer sentences than we could achieve through a jury trial. We want to make sure that Mr. Kulze’s family gets the highest level of justice we can achieve.”

Worrall said that he believes that this case in particular has had a positive impact on lowering heroin availability in the area. “We have had some major arrests involving heroin and methamphetamine possession and delivery over the last year or so. It is a testament to our law enforcement’s resilience to follow their investigations through to fruition. It took a long time and a lot of good police work to connect the dots in this case and we believe our community is safer as a result of their hard work.”

Washakie County Victim Witness Advocate Bob Vines said in the release, “Rob Kulze was battling his personal demons like so many in our community right now, but he certainly didn’t deserve to die that night.

“This case speaks to how the national opioid crisis has made its appearance in our small town. So many young people, their families and friends, have been affected by heroin and prescription opioids here. We need to start treating this trend as a public health emergency,” he added.

Daniel Leyva’s next court appearance will be an arraignment in district court in Worland.

 
 

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