SALT LAKE CITY — When Shawn Langford handed a rifle to his wife just over a year ago, she shot and killed herself. Prosecutors subsequently charged him with negligent homicide.
On Tuesday, his attorney said both were high on bath salts and under the influence of alcohol that day — and they had a plan.
"(They) decided to make a suicide pact," defense attorney Clayton Simms explained to a judge. "She pulled the trigger first. Shawn became startled by that and didn't honor that pact and called 911 instead."
Rashell Langford, 33, was found dead in the Bluffdale home the couple shared at 14463 S. Camp Williams Road (1700 West) on Sept. 5, 2011. A gray Remington bolt action rifle was found next to her body, according to charges. A spent shell casing was in the barrel.
In June, her husband was charged with negligent homicide or in the alternative, reckless endangerment, both class A misdemeanors.
The 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment before 3rd District Judge John Paul Kennedy. Simms said the plea indicates that his client accepts that he "made bad decisions" that helped contribute to his wife's death.
"He engaged in circumstances that raised a substantial risk of death," Simms explained.
He said the couple had been drinking alcohol and using bath salts throughout the day. Rashell Langford's blood alcohol level was .46; the legal limit in Utah is .08. It is believed the bath salts somehow counteracted the effects of the alcohol to allow for such a level of intoxication.
Simms said the plea also means everyone "absolutely knows he wasn't involved in pulling the trigger." This was helped by the fact that his client took a lie detector test and passed.
But that hasn't eliminated the emotional aspect of the case.
"He has a tremendous amount of guilt," Simms said. "I think it's difficult for him. That's the tragedy of all this. He lost his wife out of this because of the bad decisions, because they chose to consume bath salts, consume that much alcohol."
Sentencing has been set for Nov. 5.