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Case against ex-Miss Riverton and 3 others was overcharged, attorney says

LDS mission delayed for driver of vehicle in 'bottle bomb' case

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The former Miss Riverton, accused of tossing homemade "bottle bombs" out a car window, made her first court appearance Thursday.

The hearing for Kendra Gill, 18, in 3rd District Court was very brief. She was in the courtroom long enough to have her initial appearance continued until Sept. 26. Her attorney, Wally Bugden, hopes by that time that a plea deal can be reached with prosecutors.

Bugden called the incident a "prank that has been taken out of proportion" and said it should not have been charged as a felony.

"This is a case that I absolutely believe would be more appropriately and fairly prosecuted as a misdemeanor. These young people were not trying to injure anyone and they did not injure anyone. When you think of a bomb, you think of someone trying to cause injury to someone else. And that absolutely was not their intention."

On Aug. 2, police say Gill and three 18-year-olds, Bryce Christopher Stone, of Riverton, John Patrick Reagh, of Draper, and Shanna Marie Smith, of Bluffdale, drove around Riverton and threw bottle bombs out a car window, including one onto the front lawn of one home, and another where some people were standing nearby.

All four were charged with four counts of possession of an explosive device, a second-degree felony.

But defense attorneys say the defendants are all good kids with no criminal pasts.

Attorney Richard Van Wagoner, who represents Stone, the driver of the vehicle, said his client was supposed to leave for an LDS mission Wednesday but now can't because of the court proceedings hanging over him. He said his client was a star basketball player in high school with a near 4.0 GPA.

The intention of the group was simply to produce a loud bang to scare their friends, he said. There was no shrapnel in the homemade bombs or intent to injure. It's a prank that Van Wagoner didn't believe was uncommon among other juveniles in the area.

That's why he believes the district attorney may be using these four to send a message to others to "stick with toilet paper and doorbell ditching."

Van Wagoner said a proposed resolution for all four defendants was on the table and both sides were working to make the plea deal happen.

Bugden said the only reason the case is receiving any attention in the media at all is because of his client, the former pageant queen.

Gill resigned her pageant title two weeks after her arrest.

“It was a silly mistake that we obviously didn't think through what we were about to do and what we did do," she said. "So, yeah, it was a stupid mistake on our part.”

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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