A college professor accused of hiring a Vietnam veteran to kill his wife and her walking partner last fall has been put on probation for four years after pleading no contest to a reduced charge.

In a hearing earlier this month before 3rd District Judge Homer Wilkinson, Gerald Pidcock, 53, Taylorsville, pleaded no contest to a charge of conspiracy to commit manslaughter, a third-degree felony.Pidcock, who has been on leave from his job as a drafting professor at Salt Lake Community College, was originally charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, a first-degree felony

In exchange for his no-contest plea, Pidcock was placed on probation for four years and ordered to continue mental health counseling, take his medication and abstain from committing crimes other than minor traffic offenses, according to court documents.

In four years, the court will review his progress. If Pidcock has complied with the terms, the plea will be revoked and the case will be dismissed.

If he fails to meet the terms, the judge will sentence him on the third-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Robert Stott, deputy Salt Lake County attorney, said Pidcock was allowed to plead no contest because six psychiatrists determined he was mentally ill when he hired a Vietnam war veteran to shoot his wife and her walking partner.

The charges maintain Pidcock agreed to pay the veteran half of a $50,000 life insurance policy that he had recently taken out on his wife. The planned death of the woman's walking partner was to be a diversion, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

The veteran went to police, who arrested Pidcock Oct. 13, 1987, after observing him give the veteran a $500 down payment.

Stott said the psychiatrists found Pidcock, who had no criminal history, was suffering from depression and other mental illnesses but has responded positively to treatment.

The plea arrangement was allowed also because Pidcock's wife had forgiven him and desired to continue living with him.