A Chesterfield County man has been sentenced to serve 25 years in prison for fatally stabbing his wife in the presence of his four children while he was free on bond for a charge of assaulting her 10 days earlier.
As part of a plea agreement, Leonidas Diaz, 51, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Chesterfield Circuit Court to first-degree murder in the March 4, 2020, slaying of his wife of nearly 30 years, Mirian Diaz, 48. In exchange, prosecutors withdrew an accompanying charge of unlawful stabbing in the commission of a felony.
In accordance with the agreement between the prosecution and defense, Circuit Judge Steven C. McCallum sentenced Diaz to 50 years in prison with 25 years suspended.
According to a summary of evidence by Chesterfield prosecutor Geneva Gnam, police were called to the Diaz home in the 1800 block of Stone River Road for a report of an assault with a deadly weapon. The first officer to arrive found Mirian Diaz directly inside the door with stab wounds to her neck and chest.
The victim’s eldest son, Daniel, 24, was applying pressure to his mother’s wounds. The officer determined she wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, so he attempted CPR until paramedics arrived. She was pronounced dead at 11:03 p.m.
The defendant’s four children were at home at the time of the attack, and investigators interviewed each of them for their accounts of what occurred.
Gnam said Diaz’s eldest daughter, Jennifer, 22, told police the family had gone out to dinner at an Applebee’s about 5 p.m. and that her father drank three beers while they were there. She told police he began drinking more after they got home, and so did his wife.
The husband and wife soon began to argue about “cheating, money and selling another house,” and Mirian Diaz wanted to call 911, Gnam said the daughter told police. The dispute became heated, and the couple began to throw things around the house.
At that point, Jennifer Diaz said she saw her father grab a kitchen knife and making stabbing motions; she then grabbed her daughter and ran upstairs.
One of the couple’s other daughters, 12, told police her mother and father were arguing and that, at one point, her mother grabbed her phone and was preparing to call 911 when Diaz grabbed a knife and began stabbing her. The daughter tried unsuccessfully to pull her father off her mother during the attack.
A third daughter, 15, told police she also saw her father grab a knife and “run after her mother with it,” Gnam said.
Eldest son Daniel told police he wrestled the knife away from his father and punched him in the face after seeing him stab his mother. Diaz then fled out a rear door, but he was soon located by a patrol officer and surrendered peacefully.
“At the time of the incident, Leonidas Diaz had been released on bond by the magistrate for the earlier domestic assault of his wife [on Feb. 23],” Gnam said.
In that case, Diaz had been drinking and began arguing with his wife, accusing her of cheating; he shoved her and prevented her from leaving the home. After she broke free, Diaz walked into the kitchen and grabbed a knife, placing it against his throat and threatened to kill himself, according to court papers.
Mirian Diaz filed an emergency protective order against her husband, but the order expired Feb. 26, and she did not seek to extend or renew it, according to court records.
Diaz’s attorney, Mary Adams, said his children were in court on Wednesday and Diaz asked them for forgiveness.
“He said he could never forgive himself for what happened and he wished he could go back and change it,” Adams said. “He was proud of his children for always walking the right path.”
“He has just suffered terribly over what happened,” she added. “He worked hard his whole life. He had been given a nice opportunity here and raised a nice family. He loved his wife, and he loved his children.”
Adams said Diaz is not a U.S. citizen but has lived in the country for 32 years as a “lawful permanent resident,” or someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. She said that with his arrest and now conviction, his immigration status is in flux.