A Kearns man charged with participating in a gang-related drive-by shooting in Kearns pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday and was released from jail.
Gary Archibald, 23, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, as part of a plea bargain with the Salt Lake County attorney's office. Two counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated assault were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea.Archibald admitted to 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy that he was involved in the drive-by shooting in Kearns on Oct. 15 in which two people were injured.
He and his brother, co-defendant Trentin M. Giles, 18, were apparently on their way to pick their mother up from work when they were flagged down by co-defendant Benny Lee Gardner, 18, who told them to follow another car, said defense attorney Andrew Valdez.
Archibald told the judge he saw Gardner carrying a shotgun when he got into the car and knew they were going to a fight.
"You knew the shotgun was going to be used?" the judge asked.
"Yes, sir," he replied.
Valdez said that although his client was partially culpable, he was only an "aider and abettor" to the crime. He was riding in the back seat of the vehicle and gave only verbal encouragement to the others.
"Mr. Archibald has taken a giant step before the court today in admitting his participation," he said. "Mr. Archibald - at most - offered words of encouragement."
Archibald is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 4. At that time, a hearing may be held to determine if a new gang enhancement statute should be applied to his sentence. If the judge finds that he acted "in concert with two or more persons" he may order him to serve an additional three years.
Archibald was released to Pretrial Services, which will supervise him until his sentencing. Last week Murphy refused to lower his bail. He agreed to his release Monday, however, because with the conviction, he said the penalties would be heavier if Archibald chose to flee the jurisdiction of the court before he is sentenced.
Giles and Gardner remain in the Salt Lake County Jail and are scheduled to stand trial on Feb. 5.