There will no longer be a jury trial in the case of a slain Owatonna man, after the charged individual entered a plea agreement last week.
Travis Patrick Wade Leonard, 25, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty Friday in Hennepin County District Court to first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 24, 2020 slaying of 23-year-old Dylan Lattery, of Owatonna. Per his plea agreement, a charge of second-degree murder was dismissed.
Lattery was a 2015 Owatonna High School graduate who is remembered by his friends and family has a person who loved the outdoors and traveling adventures, and was always quick to make new friends.
According to the criminal complaint, police were called to Leonard's Minneapolis home after he reported that someone had broken into his house and that he had shot the intruder. Police found Lattery not breathing on the floor with two gunshot wounds and a hatchet in his hand. Multiple searches of the home resulted in the recovery of a sheath for the hatchet outside Leonard's upstairs bedroom and Leonard's firearm on the closet floor, according to the report.
Police also reportedly found in the closet $13,000 in cash and a suitcase containing marijuana and THC wax in an adjacent room. According to court documents, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia were located throughout the house.
Leonard initially told police that he didn't know Lattery prior to the incident and that he was in his bedroom with his wife and child when they saw Lattery in the doorway, holding a hatchet and asking where the money was. Leonard allegedly described a fight where Lattery had the upper hand, but his wife reportedly told police that Leonard had Lattery pinned when she brought him his gun.
Leonard later admitted to knowing Lattery, stating he had previously sold him marijuana, according to the complaint. Leonard reportedly said he shot Lattery in the stomach and Lattery then told Leonard to "just end me now." He told police he then shot Lattery in the back of the head and put the hatchet in Lattery's hand to make it look like he was still a threat, according to the report.
An autopsy report found Lattery had been shot once in the middle of his back and once in the back of the head.
Efforts by Leonard's defense team to dismiss the case for lack of probable cause were denied by Judge Regina Chu in September. Chu also denied a motion to suppress statements Leonard made to law enforcement outside his residence the day of the incident but granted three motions to suppress other evidence in the case, including evidence obtained during a second search of the home that uncovered the handgun used in Lattery's killing.
The judge determined that an initial sweep ensured the emergency was over and that investigating officers were safe. The judge concluded that the second search was "impermissible and the gun must be suppressed."
The judge also determined that the second pat-search of Leonard by officers, which resulted in the seizure of his cell phone, was improper.
The final piece of suppressed evidence, as determined by the judge, are statements Leonard made to investigators at City Hall. According to court documents, the state argued that Leonard's request for an attorney when he was brought to an interview room was premature. The judge disagreed and said there is "no doubt" that Leonard was in custody once he was placed in the room. The judge also concluded that the officer failed to inform the investigators of Leonard's request for counsel. These statements include Leonard admitting to knowing Lattery and placing the hatchet in his hand after the fatal gunshots.
Aside from an assortment of parking tickets, Leonard has no criminal history in the state of Minnesota. His sentencing has been scheduled for March 15.