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Former beauty queen takes plea deal in 'bottle bomb' case

Published: Thursday, Sept. 26 2013 2:09 p.m. MDT

Kendra McKenzie Gill stands with her attorney before her court appearance Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The former Miss Riverton and three others accepted plea deals after being accused of tossing homemade bottle bombs in a Salt Lake suburb. Gill and the other 18-year-olds pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted possession of a chemical device, a misdemeanor. The charges will be dismissed after they complete 200 hours of community service. In addition, each was fined $500. (Rick Bowmer, AP) Kendra McKenzie Gill stands with her attorney before her court appearance Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The former Miss Riverton and three others accepted plea deals after being accused of tossing homemade bottle bombs in a Salt Lake suburb. Gill and the other 18-year-olds pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted possession of a chemical device, a misdemeanor. The charges will be dismissed after they complete 200 hours of community service. In addition, each was fined $500. (Rick Bowmer, AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — The former Miss Riverton accused of tossing homemade "bottle bombs" out a car window struck a plea deal Thursday.

Kendra Gill, 18, and three co-defendants all took pleas in abeyance in 3rd District Court, pleading guilty to a reduced charges of attempted possession of an incendiary device, a misdemeanor, in exchange for the dismissal of three other counts of possession of an incendiary device.

All original charges were felonies, prompting Gill's attorney, Wally Bugden, to argue that the case was overcharged. He said the case was ultimately about teens making poor judgments as opposed to felony behaviors.

The pleas in abeyance will be held for a year, meaning the cases will be dismissed if they follow the rules of her probation during that time. Each was ordered to pay a $500 fee and complete 200 hours of community service, according to court records. The court noted that it would consider dismissing the cases early if the fee is paid and the community service is worked off before 12 months.

Kendra Gill, former Miss Riverton, looks on before her court appearance in 3rd District Court Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Gill accepted a plea deal on charges of tossing homemade bottle bombs. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press) Kendra Gill, former Miss Riverton, looks on before her court appearance in 3rd District Court Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Gill accepted a plea deal on charges of tossing homemade bottle bombs. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

"I think this is a completely fair outcome," Bugden said Thursday. "I think calmer heads prevailed. And I think this was a fair and a reasonable resolution that fits the conduct. This was not felony conduct."

Bugden said the teens were also offered a deal to knock off some of their community service hours if they agree to appear in a public service announcement video warning other teens about participating in similar behavior.

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

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

Their attorneys, however, argued the four had no criminal pasts, and the devices they threw were intended only to make a loud "bang" and scare people as opposed to causing destruction or injury.

Kendra McKenzie Gill stands with her attorney before her court appearance Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The former Miss Riverton and three others accepted plea deals after being accused of tossing homemade bottle bombs in a Salt Lake suburb. Gill and the other 18-year-olds pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted possession of a chemical device, a misdemeanor. The charges will be dismissed after they complete 200 hours of community service. In addition, each was fined $500. (Rick Bowmer, AP) Kendra McKenzie Gill stands with her attorney before her court appearance Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The former Miss Riverton and three others accepted plea deals after being accused of tossing homemade bottle bombs in a Salt Lake suburb. Gill and the other 18-year-olds pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted possession of a chemical device, a misdemeanor. The charges will be dismissed after they complete 200 hours of community service. In addition, each was fined $500. (Rick Bowmer, AP)

The only reason the case received attention in the media at all, Bugden argued, was because of Gill's beauty queen status.

Gill resigned her pageant title two weeks after her arrest.

Bugden said the lesson to be learned from the case is for youths to stick with toilet papering and doorbell ditching and avoid using anything that goes "boom."

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