Three Kearns men charged with attempted murder in connection with a gang-related drive-by shooting were bound over to 3rd District Court Wednesday.
Following five separate meetings in which the preliminary hearing was partially held or discussed, 3rd Circuit Judge Dennis Fuchs ruled there was probable cause that Benny Lee Gardner, 18; Trentin M. Giles, 18; and Gary Archibald, 23; were responsible for the shooting that occurred in Kearns on Oct. 15.They were ordered to appear for an arraignment before Judge Michael Murphy on Dec. 3. Each faces two counts of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting that injured Alama Tausinga, 18, and Fatafehi Samani, 15, also of Kearns.
The hearing began Nov. 13. Extra security was called into the courtroom because of the presence of alleged gang members and the ill will that apparently existed between the many friends and family members of both the victims and the defendants.
During a recess in the hearing, John T. Mills, 24, of Salt Lake City, was arrested and later charged with tampering with a witness. Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs present outside the courtroom said Mills threatened to kill Tausinga, who was there to testify during the hearing.
The hearing was stopped after the judge discovered what he called a "serious conflict of interest" involving attorney Don Bybee in representing both Giles and his brother, Archibald.
The hearing was continued until Nov. 15, a scheduling conference was held Monday, the hearing resumed Tuesday, and the matter was finally resolved Wednesday.
Witnesses testified the drive-by shooting was the result of an ongoing gang dispute. A deputy sheriff read from a taped statement Gardner had given him the day after the shooting in which he admitted he shot five or six shots at the victims because he had previously been a victim of threats, harassment and fighting from "Polynesian elements," including a drive-by shooting at his Kearns home.
Prosecutors say Giles is the one who drove the vehicle during the shooting and say Archibald also participated in the incident.