A Kearns man who pleaded guilty to participating in a gang-related drive-by shooting last fall was sentenced to 36 months' probation Monday.
Gary R. Archibald, 24, celebrated with friends outside the 3rd District courtroom after receiving the sentence. Just one week earlier, his half-brother Trentin M. Giles, 19, and friend Benny Lee Gardner, 18, were sent to prison for their participation in the same shooting.Defense attorney Andrew Valdez argued that Archibald was the least culpable of the three men and asked Judge Michael Murphy to be more lenient with his client than he had been with the other two.
The three men were booked into jail following the drive-by shooting in which two people were injured on Oct. 15. Alama Tausinga, 18, and Fatafehi Semani, 15, and two others testified they were walking home near 4600 West and 5300 South when the shooting occurred.
Tausinga and Semani were hit with several small pellets from the shotgun blasts and still have some pellets inside their bodies because doctors have been unable to remove them.
Giles was charged with driving the car and Archibald was a passenger. Gardner apparently waved Giles down and hopped into the car with a sawed-off shotgun two blocks away from the shooting. A deputy testified that Gardner told him he went out "looking for the group," meaning the Tongan Crips gang or "any Tongan in the Kearns area."
Gardner's attorney said her client has continually been assaulted and threatened by members of that gang and said he was retaliating when he fired at the victims.
Valdez, however, said Archibald was not involved in the conflicts or gang activity and was only riding with his brother to get gasoline for the car so they could pick up their mother from work. When Gardner entered the car, Archibald knew they were going to a fight but did not know a shooting would occur, Valdez said.
"The prosecution has told me the only reason they charged Archibald is because he indicated to them he knew they were going to get in a fight," he said. A fourth passenger in the car was never charged.
Although originally charged with two counts of attempted criminal homicide and two counts of aggravated assault, Archibald was allowed to plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault as part of a plea bargain. He served 63 days in jail before he was released to Pre-Trial Services following the plea.
Murphy said he had received no evidence to show that Archibald was involved in gang activity. He said he felt comfortable giving him three years' probation "to assure myself Mr. Archibald is not involved in any gang activity or other criminal activity."