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Attorneys: Man accused of shooting relative in church felt 'disrespected,' was hypnotized

Published: Monday, July 22 2013 3:25 p.m. MDT

Charles Richard Jennings, Jr. appears in 2nd District Court June 20, 2013, in Ogden, to face charges accusing him of shooting his father-in-law in the head during Mass in an Ogden church. A judge on Monday ordered him to be held without bail. (Nick Short) Charles Richard Jennings, Jr. appears in 2nd District Court June 20, 2013, in Ogden, to face charges accusing him of shooting his father-in-law in the head during Mass in an Ogden church. A judge on Monday ordered him to be held without bail. (Nick Short)

OGDEN — A man accused of shooting his father-in-law in the head during an Ogden church service will be held without bail, a judge ordered Monday.

Charles "Ricky" Jennings told police he shot the man because "he felt disrespected," according to prosecutors who believe he still poses a threat to the victim. His attorney said Jennings told police he was hypnotized.

Investigators say Jennings, 35, walked into the St. James the Just Catholic Church, 495 N. Harrison Blvd., after Mass had begun on June 16. Within moments of entering, he walked over to the back pew toward his father-in-law, Jim Evans, and shot him in the head without saying a word, according to police.

Jennings was being held on $105,000 cash-only bail, but prosecutors asked a judge to hold him without bail to ensure that he could not be released from custody before his trial.

Charles Richard Jennings Jr. is charged with shooting his father-in-law during the head during Mass at an Ogden church on Sunday June 16, 2013. A judge on Monday ordered him to be held without bail. (Ogden Police Department) Charles Richard Jennings Jr. is charged with shooting his father-in-law during the head during Mass at an Ogden church on Sunday June 16, 2013. A judge on Monday ordered him to be held without bail. (Ogden Police Department)

Deputy Weber County attorney Dean Saunders argued that Jennings posed a threat to the community — and to Evans — if released.

"We believe he is a substantial danger to the victim in this case to go back and try to complete the act that he tried to do on this particular day," Saunders said.

However, defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis argued that Jennings — after fleeing and allegedly carjacking a vehicle — waited for police prior to his arrest and had a relatively minor criminal history, despite having spent some time in prison. He said Jennings was unlikely to make bail anyway.

"Any change in his bail would, I think, be symbolic," Bouwhuis said. "He's not going to make bail. He has no assets; the family doesn't have the assets available to be able to bail him out."

Bouwhuis also asked for an evaluation into his client's mental competency, which Judge Michael Lyon granted.

Jennings told police investigators after his arrest that he had been hypnotized, Bouwhuis said. The man's mother also indicated that Jennings had been in an accident about 10 years ago that had resulted in head injuries.

The judge determined that the aggravated nature of the crime and the suggestion that Jennings might be prone to "mental instability" warranted holding the man without bail to protect the community.

Jennings is charged with attempted murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies; and possession of a firearm by restricted person, a second-degree felony, in connection with the June 16 shooting.

Jennings was arrested about 3 ½ hours after the shooting. Witnesses said he ran to a nearby neighborhood and first entered the house of one woman and asked for her car before going to a second home and carjacking a vehicle. The pickup he allegedly stole at gunpoint eventually ran out of gas, and police say he called family who alerted police to his location.

Jennings is next scheduled to appear in court for a competency review on Sept. 9.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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