Attorney Ron Yengich resigns after client rejects plea deal in Kay Mortensen case

Published: Thursday, June 7 2012 12:45 p.m. MDT

Attorney Ronald Yengich, left, talks with his client Martin C. Bond as they appear before Judge Thomas Low in 4th District Court in American Fork Tuesday, January 18, 2011. Bond has been charged with aggravated murder for the Nov. 16, 2009 killing of former BYU professor Kay Mortensen in Payson.

JASON OLSON/Daily Herald,

AMERICAN FORK — Martin Bond is one of two men charged in connection with the death of retired BYU professor Kay Mortensen. Wednesday Bond rejected a plea deal in his case, prompting his attorney Ron Yengich to quit.

Bond has pleaded not guilty to capital murder and aggravated kidnapping, burglary and robbery charges in the death of Kay Mortensen, who was found with his throat slit and his arms tied behind his back in his Payson home on Nov. 16, 2009. His son and daughter-in-law arrived at the home when the slaying and robbery were in progress and eventually found the man's body.

Prosecutors were willing to drop the threat of the death penalty if Bond would plead guilty and agree to life in prison without parole.

Bond refused and that has caused enough of a rift that Yengich resigned as Bond's attorney. Calls to Yengich about why he left the case were not returned.

Bond will be back in court a month from now, when a new attorney will be appointed. Prosecutors said they still intend to seek the death penalty if Bond is convicted.

Bond is scheduled for trial in October, although prosecutors realize it's unlikely the case will happen this fall, but they said they have new, even stronger evidence against him.

"Our case is ready to roll, so we're ready to go forward on our case," Taylor said. "It was November 16, 2009, and so we would really like to get this taken care of as soon as possible and let the jury decide."

Meanwhile, Bond's co-defendant Ben Rettig is trying to withdraw his guilty plea. In June 2011, he pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping, both first-degree felonies, in a plea deal that reduced the murder charge from a capital offense, which could have led to the death penalty. Rettig is already serving 25 years to life in prison and last week asked a judge to appoint him an attorney to appeal his plea bargain.

The victim's son and his wife were wrongly accused until two men from the Uintah Basin were implicated. Roger and Pamela Mortensen are suing Utah County prosecutors and the sheriff's office in federal court, claiming they were wrongfully prosecuted.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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