Woman Gets Prison For Assault Against Attorney

TYNDALL — A Tyndall woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison — with 10 years suspended — for assaulting a former Avon attorney with a gun and knife.

During last week’s proceedings in First Circuit Court, Miriam Leibel was sentenced on one count of aggravated assault for a Feb. 3 incident at the Avon office of attorney Scott Swier. She pleaded guilty but mentally ill on the charge.

The charge relates to a Feb. 3 incident where Swier was alone at his Avon law office catching up on work. Leibel entered the office and stood in the doorway without his knowledge, Swier said, and confronted him at gunpoint.

Court records don’t include information on the incident, but Swier shared details during an interview with the Dakota News Now network of Sioux Falls. The station noted he formerly served as South Dakota assistant attorney general.

The woman pointed a handgun at Swier and accused both him and the Avon school district — which he represented at the time — of sending her Satanic messages over her television and computer.

At that point, Swier said he realized he was likely dealing with a potential mental illness issue and managed to “talk down” the woman while negotiating with her for 3-5 minutes. The woman later pulled out a knife, Swier said. He persuaded her to surrender her weapons on a table and join him in his conference room.

At the same time, Swier was discreetly texting his wife about the situation. He said he managed to defuse the situation until the Avon police chief arrived on the scene and arrested Leibel.

At the time, the court issued a restraining order that prohibited Leibel from having contact with Swier. She was also ordered to remain more than 1,000 feet away from the Swier Law office at 202 North Main Street, Avon.

Leibel had been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, both involving weapons. She was scheduled for a trial last week in First Circuit Court in Tyndall, but she pleaded guilty to one charge as part of a plea deal.

Both charges were Class 3 felonies with each carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

As part of her sentence, Leibel was credited for the 176 days she was incarcerated at the Yankton County Jail, which has accommodations for female prisoners. The Bon Homme County Sheriff’s Office transported her to the women’s prison to begin her sentence.

Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering had set Leibel’s bond at $100,000 cash, an increase from the original $5,000. Gering later voluntarily recused herself from presiding over the case.

Circuit Judge Chris Giles replaced Gering on the bench for the case and pronounced sentence at the July 27 sentencing.

At last week’s sentencing, Giles sentenced Leibel to 15 years in the South Dakota State Women’s Penitentiary in Pierre. Ten years shall be suspended on the following conditions:

• The defendant shall abide by the rules and regulations of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, shall sign the required parole agreements and shall obey all conditions imposed by them even though the conditions may not have been specifically set out by the court;

• The defendant shall pay all financial obligations during her supervision;

• The defendant shall take all prescribed medications and meet with mental health counselors as required.

In addition, Leibel was ordered to pay $106.50 in court costs, $2,700 to the Bon Homme County Auditor for the cost of psychological evaluations; $93.40 for costs of prosecution; and $300 to Swier for restitution.

A Bon Homme County grand jury had indicted Leibel on two aggravated assault charges. As part of the plea bargain, she was sentenced on the second count, which alleged “she did then and there attempt by physical menace with a deadly weapon to put another, i.e. Scott Swier, in fear of imminent serious bodily (injuries).”

As part of a plea bargain, the state dropped the first charge, which alleged “she did then and there attempt to cause, or knowingly caused bodily injury to another, i.e. Scott Swier, with a dangerous weapon.”

Leibel had entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to both counts of the indictment. During the court process, she received a court-ordered competency evaluation from Dr. Thomas Price of Sioux Falls. Bon Homme County was ordered to pay the cost, which included both Price’s evaluation of Leibel and his travel to Yankton. As part of her sentence, Leibel was ordered to pay restitution for those costs.

Bon Homme County State’s Attorney Lisa Rothschadl represented the prosecution, while Sioux Falls attorney Michael Nadolski served as defense counsel.

At the time of Leibel’s alleged assault, Avon Superintendent Tom Culver told the Press & Dakotan that his school board discussed the incident at its regular monthly meeting.

School officials were going to continue using security measures at the front doors, Culver said at the time. Avon school officials were looking at possible necessary action if Leibel had been bonded out of jail, he added.

The Swier Law Firm maintains offices in a number of communities, but Swier himself currently doesn’t practice law.

Leibel has a right to appeal within 30 days after the July 27 date when the court order was signed, attested and filed.

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