Fleming pleads guilty

Donald Fleming stands Monday in Elko District Court with his attorney, Gary Woodbury, behind him.

ELKO – A Spring Creek man accused of killing his wife in 2016 pleaded guilty but mentally ill in exchange for a reduced charge in district court Monday.

Donald Willis Fleming, 39, was alleged to have shot his wife, Kristin, in the early morning hours of June 3 at their residence. He was initially charged with first and second degree murder with a deadly weapon.

In the plea agreement, Fleming’s charge was dropped to voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon, a category B felony, in exchange for no other charges filed by the District Attorney’s office.

The sentence for voluntary manslaughter carries 1 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The deadly weapon enhancement carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and must be served consecutively with the voluntary manslaughter charge. 

Fleming is not eligible for parole until he has served the minimum sentence imposed for voluntary manslaughter and the use of a deadly weapon.

Before the plea deal, Fleming possibly faced the death penalty if found guilty of first degree murder. If he had been found guilty of second degree murder he could have been sentenced to life in prison.

In entering his plea before Judge Nancy Porter in Elko District Court, Fleming told the court he accepted the plea agreement because “there’s evidence that could convict me of it if [the case] went before a jury.”

Gary Woodbury, who was retained by Fleming as his defense attorney, told the court “nobody in this courtroom knows what happened except me and Mr. Fleming. The fact is there is no evidence to refute or support Mr. Fleming’s version of it.”

Dr. Melissa Piasecki, a psychiatrist, told the court she was hired to evaluate Fleming and met with him in August. She said he was diagnosed with major depression and post traumatic stress disorder, adding he developed a substance abuse disorder with alcohol.

Piasecki said his diagnosis “significantly limits his interpersonal relations and employment.”

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Fleming has been incarcerated since his arrest.

Deputies were called to the residence in July 2014 and arrested Fleming on a charge of domestic battery, which was amended four months later to disturbing the peace.

A date for sentencing has not been set.

This article has been corrected to amend information about the penalties each charge carries. 

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Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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