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Pahrump man gets life sentence for killing his mother

Updated September 11, 2020 - 2:22 pm

A Pahrump man has been sentenced to life in prison in the 2018 stabbing and beating of his adoptive mother, a killing that authorities have said was carried out by the man and his half brother when both were 17.

Michael Wilson, now 19, will be eligible for parole after 10 years. In addition to the life sentence, Nye County District Court Judge Kimberly Wanker sentenced Wilson on Wednesday to serve eight to 20 years in a state prison for the use of a deadly weapon in the killing of Dawn Liebig. The sentences will run consecutively.

“This was truly a heinous crime and we hope that this sentence helps with the closure process and pays respect to the memory of Ms. Liebig,” Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said in a statement on Friday.

Because Wilson was a minor at the time of the killing, state law prevented Arabia from seeking a life sentence without parole.

“Given that limitation, we believe that this was a just outcome,” Arabia said. “He will serve life unless the Parole Board someday releases him.”

Both Wilson and his brother, Dakota Saldivar, who is Liebig’s biological son, previously pleaded guilty to murder. Saldivar’s sentencing date had not been determined as of Friday, but Arabia said he will seek punishment “identical to the one imposed on Wilson.”

Authorities have said the July 2018 attack lasted a half-hour while Liebig fought for her life. The brothers then buried their 46-year-old mother in a shallow grave in the desert near their Pahrump home.

The next month, Wilson led the Nye County Sheriff’s Office to the woman’s decomposing body after he and his brother confessed to killing her because they were fed up with her parenting style.

Wilson admitted to stabbing his mother in the neck as she slept on the couch, waking her up.

“No, no, stop,” Liebig said, according to authorities. Wilson stabbed her five more times.

Then, authorities said, Saldivar hit the woman in the head with a hammer about 20 times.

Unaware that her sons were attacking her, Liebig called out to them for help as she died.

At the top of Liebig’s Facebook profile, her introduction reads: “im a mom that hopes she did okay. i want my boys to become the men i hoped for. i live for them.”

In addition to Wilson and Saldivar, Liebig had three other biological sons. She adopted Wilson about five years prior to the killing.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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