Lake Tahoe shooting suspect back in custody
April 16, 2014
A Round Hill woman accused of murdering her husband was back in jail Monday after a District Court judge reinstated her $1 million bail.
Tatiana Leibel, out on $75,000 cash bail, pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of open murder with a use of a firearm.
Before setting a trial date, District Judge Michael Gibbons ruled on a motion filed by the district attorney’s office that Leibel’s bail was too low.
Her bail was reduced by Tahoe Township Justice Richard Glasson following a preliminary hearing.
“My main concern is that she is a flight risk,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Gregory. “I understand she hasn’t been convicted yet, but this is an open murder charge, she was bound over.”
Gregory said if Leibel were convicted, she could face life in prison without possibility of parole.
He pointed out that while Leibel lived in the United States legally, she was not a citizen, and had not put up her own money for bail.
She is originally from Russia.
“Current conditions don’t restrict her travel,” Gregory said. “She is on a GPS, but, hypothetically, she could return to Russia with the GPS on, and not violate a court order.
He said Leibel flew to San Diego as soon as she posted bail, but she was present in court Monday.
Leibel’s attorney, Kris Brown, objected to the motion to increase bail.
She said the preliminary hearing failed to show there was a strong possibility a murder was committed, or that Leibel was the suspect.
On Feb. 23, Leibel called 911 from their home and claimed her 64-year-old husband Harvey committed suicide.
Investigators believe she shot the victim twice, and tried to make it look like a suicide.
She was arrested two days later and charged with open murder with the use of a firearm. The District Attorney’s Office filed notice it will not seek the death penalty.
Leibel, who was ordered to surrender her passports, bailed out of jail after Glasson lowered her bail.
Brown said Leibel had no prior criminal history, and voluntarily came in to the sheriff’s office for questioning when she knew she was a suspect.
“She’s had every opportunity at the earliest phases to flee, and she’s here,” Brown said.
She said the court denied her client’s request to use her home as collateral for bail, or allow her to stay in the residence.
“She was released from jail penniless,” Brown said.
Leibel went to San Diego to be with her family and stay with a friend who came up with the bail money.
At a probate hearing Monday afternoon, Gibbons appointed the victim’s daughter as executor of the estate. He put Public Administrator Claudette Springmeyer in charge of inventorying contents of the home with representatives of the victim’s family and the defendant.
Gibbons said he increased bail for several reasons.
“She is charged with first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon. It’s the most serious felony outside of capital murder. She is looking at two life sentences. Even if it was only one life sentence, that could give someone a motive to leave,” Gibbons said.
He also said while she was a legal resident, Leibel was not a U.S. citizen.
“The bail as set is very low for this type of offense,” Gibbons said.
He set bail at $1 million cash or bond.
The judge continued the arraignment a week at the request of Brown who said she wanted to confer with her client regarding a trial date.
Leibel was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
“Please, your honor, I am innocent,” she said. “I know my rights, and I don’t know why you are doing this. Please, your honor.”
According to court documents filed by Brown, Tatiana Leibel has lived in the United States since 1998. She is a legal permanent resident.
She and her husband moved to the Lake Tahoe area four years ago.
She is a 2009 graduate of Lake Tahoe Community College and earned a degree from University of Nevada, Reno, in 2011 in international affairs and political science.
Leibel also worked as an intern at the Nevada Legislature.
According to the report, Harvey Leibel was “gravely ill” with cancer and his wife had acted as his caretaker.
Brown said family friends would verify how devoted Leibel was to her husband.