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Pahrump man joins half brother in pleading guilty to mother’s murder

Updated May 20, 2020 - 8:32 am

A Pahrump man has pleaded guilty to a murder charge in the 2018 slaying of his mother.

Authorities said Dakota Saldivar and his half brother, Michael Wilson, were 17 when they stabbed and beat their mother, Dawn Liebig, 46, then buried her in a shallow grave in the desert.

Saldivar pleaded guilty May 12 to second-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon, the Nye County district attorney’s office said. Wilson pleaded guilty to the same charge earlier this year.

“This was such a tragic and terrible crime,” Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said. “Both defendants have now pled guilty to murder charges, which hopefully brings some justice for Dawn Liebig and her loved ones.”

Wilson told officers that their mother was asleep on a couch in the living room of the family’s Pahrump home just before the July 2018 attack. Wilson stabbed his mother in the neck, he told deputies, then stabbed her about five more times, according to prior court proceedings.

Hammer used in attack

Saldivar told deputies that he hit her in the head with a hammer about 20 times in a nearly half-hour attack. Authorities said the teens didn’t like Liebig’s parenting style and were tired of the demands she placed on them.

They were charged with murder with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit murder, destroying evidence and conspiracy to destroy evidence and two counts of being an accessory to murder. Saldivar and Wilson were charged as adults and faced a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors will seek life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years on the murder charge for Saldivar and Wilson, Arabia said. They will also seek an eight- to 20-year sentence, to run consecutively, for the use of a deadly weapon enhancement.

Because Saldivar and Wilson were juveniles at the time of the murder, Nevada law limits the maximum sentence they can receive before being eligible for parole, the district attorney’s office said.

“The plea negotiations here allow a sentence as much as 18 years to life without the risk of a trial, and they will be in prison for life unless the Parole Board someday grants them parole,” Arabia said.

Wilson is to be sentenced June 12. Saldivar is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 11.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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