A Smithfield man has been convicted of aggravated kidnapping by a jury in 1st District Court.
A four-man, four-woman jury deliberated two hours before convicting Mark William Tarbet of the first-degree felony. The crime carries a penalty of five-years-to-life in the Utah State Prison.Tarbet, 24, was convicted of kidnapping a 17-year-old Smithfield girl at gunpoint on May 20 as she walked home from church.
The girl testified Tarbet forced her into his truck and then drove her to a field west of the town, where he told her he was upset over a failed romance.
She said Tarbet kissed her neck and cheek, but when she pulled away he threatened her with the gun and told her to disrobe.
"I told him I would rather be shot than take off my clothes," she said. "But after a few minutes he said he couldn't go through with it because I was too nice."
She said Tarbet threatened to kill himself, but she talked him out of it. He then returned her to where he had picked her up, she said.
A tearful Tarbet told the jury Friday that he was distraught over his broken romance and that he picked up the victim "mainly because I needed someone to talk to."
Tarbet said he never intended to harm the girl or sexually abuse her.
Cache County Sheriff's Lt. Robert DeGasser said officers found Tarbet's truck parked outside a Smithfield residence after the victim identified him from a photograph.
Police stopped the vehicle as he left the house. DeGasser said the suspect refused to leave the truck and held a gun to his head for almost two hours before surrendering.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Robert Gutke did not deny Tarbet kidnapped the girl. He asked for a conviction on a lesser charge, saying his client did not intend to harm the girl.
Judge Gordon Low set sentencing for Oct. 9.