An American Fork man sentenced to prison in 1988 after pleading guilty to manslaughter wants to change his plea and could be released from prison while the Utah Supreme Court reviews his request.
Frank Gene Powell, 22, originally was charged with second-degree murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of Glen Candland. Powell ran over Candland on Nov. 29, 1987, with a truck following a dispute in front of a Pleasant Grove home, the charge says.On May 20, 1988, Powell pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison. Earlier this year, Powell requested that 4th District Judge Boyd L. Park allow him to change his plea, saying he did not understand the conditions of the plea agreement. Powell, who has a parole hearing scheduled for January 1992, says his prison term is more than he was led to believe.
Park refused Powell's request. But the state Court of Appeals ruled that because Park did not read the list of rights contained in the plea agreement Powell should be allowed to change his plea. The Utah attorney general's office has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court to have Powell's plea stand.
However, Kay Bryson, deputy Utah County attorney, said that because the attorney general's office did not file the petition within a specified time Powell is eligible to be released on bail while the court makes a ruling. Last week Park set Powell's bail at $25,000, despite Bryson's request to set bail at $100,000. Bryson said Powell is a risk to flee because he has no reason to surrender if the petition is granted.
"His situation today is significantly different," Bryson said. "He is not inclined to live by the rules and has not at any time lived by the rules."
If the Supreme Court grants the petition, Powell will resume his prison sentence. If the petition is denied, Powell would be allowed to change his plea and could go to trial on the second-degree-murder charge. If convicted of second-degree murder, Powell faces a possible sentence of five years to life.
Bryson said there are about six other similar cases before the Utah Supreme Court at this time.