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Ryan Leaf may not return to Texas for trial

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CANYON - The legal saga of former West Texas A&M football coach and NFL player Ryan Leaf may soon be over in Texas.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren is working on a plea deal that would allow Leaf's eight pending charges in Texas to be sentenced here, while Leaf sits in a Montana jail.

"Our cases against him and their case would all be served concurrently," Farren said. "That way if Mr. Leaf wants to stay in Montana even after he finishes his term, that's fine with us. Just don't come back to Texas. That would suit me just fine.

County Judge John Board first has to approve the plea deal, then Leaf will have to waive his right to be present in trial. If everything goes as planned, Farren says Texas could be done with Leaf by next month.

The deal is something Farren believes is win for Texas taxpayers.

"We save the cost of two trips to Montana and back," Farren said. "And if he serves his sentence in Montana, we don't have to pay to feed and house him in our penal institution."
    
Leaf's Canyon-based attorney Bill Kelly believes it is a win on Leaf's part as well.

"I think this is a fair way to resolve the situation and let Ryan get this behind him," Kelly said.

Kelly has known Leaf and his family for years and says all of Leaf's troubles stem from his addiction to hydrocodone, a drug he was prescribed when injured during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.

It's an addiction that Randall County hopes Leaf will beat while serving seven years jail time in Montana.

"That's fine with me if he never comes back to Texas,"Farren said.

Leaf served as WTAMU quarterback coach from March 2006 until he resigned in November of 2008. He was charged with one count of burglary of a habitation, one count of delivery of a stimulated substance, and six counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

The burglary charge was dropped in April of 2009 when Leaf pleaded guilty to all charges, and was given probation by Randall County.

When Leaf was charged with drug-related crimes in Montana in 2011, Farren says he violated his probation.

Leaf is in a Montana jail right now, after being kicked out of drug rehab center there in January.

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