Jury finds Diaz Evans danger to public safety, sentencing scheduled for May 5
WILLMAR -- Leroy Diaz Evans is a danger to public safety, according to the Kandiyohi County jury that found the 26-year-old Willmar man guilty of eight of the nine felony charges against him.
The jury returned the guilty verdicts Monday evening, but acquitted Diaz Evans of the most serious charge, first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, for firing multiple shots at a Willmar police officer Sept. 15.
The jurors re-turned to the Willmar courthouse on Tuesday morning and had answered the aggravated sentencing questions by 11:15 a.m.
The only other question asked of the jury was simple, determining if the defendant was 18 years old on the date of the crime.
The finding by the jury of aggravated factors gives District Judge Kathryn N. Smith the option to sentence Diaz Evans to more than the guideline sentence, but not more than the statutory maximum, according to County Attorney Jenna Fischer. The maximum sentence on the most serious charge of which Diaz Evans was convicted -- use of deadly force against a peace officer -- is 20 years in prison,
The county attorney's office will advocate for the longest possible prison sentence, Fischer said. "I want him in prison for a very long time," she said, adding that recidivism decreases as people get older. "I think he will kill someone if he is not incarcerated."
Diaz Evans will be sentenced May 5. He was also found guilty of seven first-degree burglary and aggravated robbery charges for the two home invasions that preceded the shooting incident.
The man has a significant criminal history and has spent more than half of his adult life in jail or prison, Fischer said.
Diaz Evans was sentenced in September 2005 to 39 months in prison for shooting a man during a domestic incident in May 2004 in Granite Falls. He was also convicted for his involvement in the stabbing murder of Nathan Hoseck, a 22-year-old Cottonwood man in 2002. He received a two-year stayed sentence after he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and second-degree riot. Diaz Evans' brother, Joshua Diaz, is serving 16½ years for his role in the stabbing death of Hoseck.