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Man pleads guilty in brutal rape, attack of UVU student

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PROVO — A Springville man accused of brutally raping a young woman and leaving her for dead near the Provo River Trail plead guilty Wednesday.

Shawn Leonard, 34, plead guilty to attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated kidnapping. In exchange for his plea, a charge of aggravated sexual assault was dismissed. All charges are first-degree felonies.

On June 9, 2010, Leonard grabbed a 19-year-old woman walking along the Provo River Trail, pulled her off the trail into some bushes, strangled her and smashed her face with a rock and cement cinder block. When the victim came to, she found her pants and underwear around her ankles. She had to crawl back to the trail to get help.

The woman later testified that she lost six teeth that day and two more were subsequently removed because they were so badly damaged. She was in the hospital for two weeks and underwent several surgeries in the months that followed. Her jaw was broken and had to be wired shut.

Leonard faced additional aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping charges for a separate incident the same day as the attack on the parkway.

He also pleaded guilty Wednesday in a related but separate case to escaping from custody after he walked away from a prison work release program just prior to the rape.

Adult Probation and Parole were ordered Wednesday to prepare a pre-sentence report on Leonard, who was being held at the Utah State Prison.

Prosecutors said during the preliminary hearing they would be seeking a sentence of life without parole.


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Pat Reavy


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