A Layton teenager charged with attempted murder in an August attack on a Utah Highway Patrol trooper will plead guilty to a lesser charge of attempted second-degree homicide, his defense attorney said Tuesday in a 2nd District Court pre-trial hearing.
Michael K. Polete, 18, 610 E. 20th North, will plead guilty to the second-degree felony charge and a second-degree felony theft charge pending against him in juvenile court, attorney Steve Vanderlinden said.Polete was scheduled to go on trial Nov. 30 on a first-degree attempted homicide charge, a first-degree felony because the attack was on an on-duty police officer.
A second Layton teenager, Jared Valentine, 18, 631 E. 20th North, was also charged with attempted first-degree homicide but pleaded guilty to two reduced charges and agreed to testify against Polete.
Prosecutor Mark Andrus told Judge Rodney S. Page the plea bargain was negotiated because of Polete's age and his statement that he admits to the shooting but maintains he was only trying to shoot out the tires of the pursuing UHP car and not injure the trooper.
Polete was 17 when the Aug. 8 incident occurred in Layton and just recently turned 18. Although a juvenile at the time, prosecutors decided to charge him as an adult.
In a plea bargain finalized only minutes before his court appearance Tuesday afternoon, Vanderlinden said Polete will plead guilty to the attempted homicide and theft charges, and the prosecution will not ask for a five-year enhancement penalty because a firearm was used in the attack.
Judge Page set a new hearing for Nov. 22 and ordered a written plea agreement and affidavit be drawn up before the negotiated plea is accepted.
UHP Trooper John T. Mitchell was pursuing a car for running a stop sign in north Layton early in the morning of Aug. 8 when several shotgun blasts from the vehicle struck his car's windshield, radiator, and tires, disabling it.
Mitchell was struck by some flying glass and debris but was not seriously injured.
Acting on tips from informants, Layton police and Davis County sheriff's detectives began looking for Polete and Valentine, who had fled the state. They were arrested outside a ranch house about 10 miles from Elko, Nev., a week later and returned to Utah.