A man was sentenced to at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing his uncle and holding his grandmother at knifepoint.
Jonathan Leabhart, 32, appeared in Haywood County Superior Court Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones described the events that led to Leabhart’s arrest.
It was about 5:30 p.m. on April 28, 2018, when Leabhart went for a ride with some friends of his before returning to his grandmother’s home on Chambers Road. Jones alluded to the fact that Leabhart had done some kind of drug that was making him highly paranoid, and he believed someone from the Avengers Motorcycle gang was out to get him, so he armed himself with a .22 caliber rifle.
“His paranoia began to gather up steam, so to speak,” Jones said.
Around that time, 911 calls came in from both Leabhart and his grandmother. Before long, Leabhart’s uncle, Billy Hyatt, who is retired from a career in law enforcement, came back from running a quick errand. When he saw what was happening, he found an opportunity, wrestled Leabhart to the ground and managed to disarm him. In the process, however, Leabhart stabbed him three times.
Once Hyatt and Leabhart separated, Leabhart took the knife to his grandmother’s throat, where he remained until deputies arrived. The tense situation was resolved when a deputy tased him, and he was taken into custody, while Hyatt was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Following the incident, methamphetamine, fentanyl and other drugs were found in Leabhart’s system. Leabhart apologized from the stand, admitting he’s had a drug problem for years.
“I wasn’t in the right state of mind,” he said.
Hyatt spoke in front of the court, during which he accepted the apology but said he and his family had tried for years to help Leabhart.
“He chose to ignore us,” he said. “He told us on numerous occasions he was going to smoke his weed and drink his alcohol no matter what we said.”
“The worst part I have to live with and think about is him pushing my mother to the ground and having the knife at her throat,” he added.
Superior Court Judge Brad Letts had high praise for Hyatt.
“Very few people would have the courage you showed to put their life in danger for someone they love as much as you loved your mother,” he told Hyatt.
“You’re truly a hero,” he added. “The fact you would put your life in harm’s way to protect your mother when someone else has a knife and a rifle.”
Letts then turned his attention to Leabhart, whom it seemed he had sympathy for.
“You do have a future in front of you,” he said. “The question is, what are you going to do about it?”