Jul. 5-Leif Everett Hayman is 32 years old, but functions at the level of a 16- to 18-year-old, his court-appointed guardian testified last month.
With a mild developmental disability, the Las Cruces man allegedly has been talking about killing people as far back as 2017. But he has no criminal record.
Newly filed court records show Hayman's defense attorney has suggested that Hayman's recent attempts to employ a professional hit man to "eliminate" his girlfriend's mother weren't serious.
Federal authorities who have charged him in the alleged murder-for-hire plot disagree. They contend in a new court filing that Hayman poses a serious risk of danger to the community at large, as well to his intended victim.
"Defendant's mental health diagnoses do nothing to mitigate the risk of danger that he presents," wrote assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Ellison in a memorandum filed June 16.
On Thursday, a senior U.S. district judge in Las Cruces is scheduled to decide whether Hayman should be incarcerated pending trial. He is currently in federal custody while the U.S. Attorney's Office appeals a lower court ruling that allowed his release under certain conditions.
To support the case for detention, the U.S. Attorney's Office memorandum provides new details about Hayman's history and characteristics, including alleged threats to family members and caregivers, plots to kidnap young girls, and escapes or attempted escapes from the residence where he is allegedly monitored while under a state court-approved guardianship.
Hayman's federal public defender hadn't filed a written response as of Friday and didn't return a Journal phone call seeking comment.
Court records show the alleged murder-for-hire plot began when Hayman contacted the satirical online website, RentAHitman.com, in early April to solicit someone to kill a woman he originally identified as his mother-in-law. Frustrated by the lack of a response, he sent five more emails, one of which stated "if you don't do it I will do it myself. ... I want her gone now."
The website creator ultimately contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which had an undercover agent contact Hayman and pose as a hit man. The agent recorded a "chilling 16-minute conversation" with Hayman, in which he discussed various ways the killing could be carried out, such as use of a gun, baseball bat, knives and rocks," the memorandum states.
"In the event he was unable to secure the services of a hitman," the memorandum states, "Defendant indicated that he was fully prepared to carry out the killing himself."
The memorandum also reveals new allegations that Hayman wanted the caretaker at his Las Cruces residence harmed as "part of the deal."
Hayman "actively and eagerly solicited the assistance of a hitman to kill the victim and eventually included his caretaker within the scope of the murder-for hire plot," the memorandum states. Hayman lived alone with the caretaker at the time.
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The alleged plot was foiled after he was arrested by ATF on June 1 on a federal charge of using interstate commerce to facilitate murder-for-hire.
The prosecutors' memorandum relied in part on ATF and pretrial services interviews with Hayman's adoptive mother, his corporate guardian, caretaker, adoptive sister and his girlfriend's mother.
According to the document:
Hayman suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A common report is that he becomes easily agitated.
"This agitation has led to physical altercations with family members on at least four separate occasions. Additionally, the victim (in the murder-for-hire plot) reported a personal interaction with (Hayman) where he became so agitated and enraged that she felt it necessary to leave his home in order to avoid physical harm."
Hayman lived in Alamogordo after he turned 18 and his adoptive mother was appointed his guardian. But she ultimately decided that she could no longer safely manage him, and transferred him to a group home for more supervision. Two years ago, he was moved into an even more restrictive guardianship arrangement at a home in Las Cruces.
However, the new documents show that more restrictive supervision did not prevent him from disabling the home's alarm system, exiting through a window in 2020.
At a June 3 hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Wormuth decided Hayman could be released back to the home pending trial, under certain conditions, such as GPS monitoring, and ensuring all security alarms were on.
But at that hearing, a pretrial services officer expressed reservations regarding the "efficacy of a GPS monitor at Defendant's residence. Specifically, the cinder block build of the residence may block or impede the accuracy of the GPS monitoring system," states the memorandum.
The U.S. Attorney's Office also noted in its detention memorandum that Wormuth didn't have all the information about Hayman's background at the time. Hayman's attorney asked for his immediate release and cited medical concerns related to Hayman's diabetes.
Of additional concern, according to federal prosecutors, is Hayman's alleged sexual attraction to young females. His mother reported that he told her he was sexually attracted to one of his younger adoptive sisters, and another time he told his mother he was sexually attracted to a family friend's daughter, who was between the ages of 9 and 11.
There are also reports he has acted on those impulses. In 2016, he began to communicate with a female in Mexico, falsely claiming he was the father of her 8-year-old daughter. He stole $3,200 from his mother and crossed into Mexico "with the alleged intent of kidnapping the girl, but the girl's mother refused to let him do so and ordered him never to return," the memorandum states.
In 2017, his sister reported that he had planned to kill his caretaker and kidnap the sister's 12-year-old daughter, whom he had a "crush" on. A note found in his room detailed a plan to kill his caretaker by crushing up medication he was supposed to be taking and putting it in his caretaker's food. After killing the caretaker, he intended to kidnap the sister's daughter and go to Mexico.
His note indicated he planned to kill his sister and her girlfriend with a baseball bat if they tried to interfere, and he was found in possession of $700 he intended to use for his escape to Mexico.
Moreover, his mother also reported a 2016-2017 discovery of a note in his room detailing his plan to kill her and an adoptive sister, "as well as a more recent incident where children's clothing was found in his room during an inspection."
In addition to the 2016 incident where he hitchhiked to Mexico, Hayman has "either escaped or attempted to escape from the residence where he is allegedly monitored 24/7 on more than one occasion." He went missing for several hours after he escaped from his residence in 2020. After being reported as a missing person, he was seen walking along a busy Las Cruces roadway. Passersby called authorities and he was transported to a local hospital because he had injured his ankle during his escape from the home.
His personal characteristics, the prosecutors' memorandum states, "suggest problem-solving and decision making methodologies that are extreme, impulsive, combustible, erratic, reckless, detached from reality, and indiscriminate. In other words, these methodologies are dangerous."