A 3rd District judge has refused to reduce the bail for three alleged gang members who are charged with participating in a drive-by shooting in Kearns.
Benny Lee Gardner, 18; Trentin M. Giles, 18; and Gary Archibald, 23, are each charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault for the shooting in which two people were injured on Oct. 15.The trio has been in jail since Oct. 17 and will likely remain incarcerated at least until their February trial date.
Salt Lake County deputy attorney Greg Skordas encouraged Judge Michael Murphy not to reduce bail because of the "long involvement of all the defendants in gang activity."
He said deputy sheriffs have told him the gang activity has greatly decreased in the Kearns area since the three men were booked into jail. "They're definitely a risk to that community out there," Skordas said.
"The first place they're going to go (if released on bail) is back to their friends who are in gangs. The next place they'll go is to find members of the Tongan Crips (gang)," he said. "Maybe we'll have a homicide . . . maybe they'll be in here for something else."
Gardner's bail is set for $100,000. Bail for Giles and Archibald is $25,000. The defense attorneys denied that their clients were members of any gang and disputed the claim that they were a risk to society.
Andrew Valdez said prosecutors have agreed to recommend that Archibald be released from jail - but only if he pleads guilty to a reduced charge. "Because he exercised his constitutional right to a trial, he is being prejudiced" by having to remain in jail, he said.
He said Archibald was in the back seat of the car with the others when Gardner apparently fired the shots and only "essentially viewed a crime."
"He may have said he thought they were going to a fist fight," Valdez said. He insisted his client didn't know he would be involved in a drive-by shooting.
Murphy said he didn't believe the state was being unfair by only recommending his release if he agreed to a plea bargain. He said that with a conviction on the record, the penalties are heavier if a defendant flees the jurisdiction of the court than they would be without a conviction.
Attorney Don Bybee said Giles was driving the car when they picked up Gardner, who was carrying a shotgun. "He (Giles) was in the car with the other two, but he didn't know where they were going," he said.
Bybee said his client has brain damage and indicated he may not be competent to stand trial. He requested that the judge reduce the bail to $16,000 so Giles' grandmother could post her home as bail for him and his brother, Archibald.
Attorney Connie Mower said she believes the prosecution has "overcharged" the three men and asked for a reduced bail for Gardner so he could be released to PreTrial services. She, too, said she would introduce psychological evidence to show a "diminished capacity" on behalf of Gardner.
Witnesses have testified the shooting was the result of an ongoing gang dispute. Two people were injured when they were sprayed with bird shot from the gun. Both victims still have pellets embedded in their bodies that doctors could not remove, Skordas said.