Salt Lake defense attorney Paul Gotay gets excited when he explains why he pleaded guilty to pointing a gun at two LDS missionaries during a confrontation with a former renter in February.
"You know why I had to do that? . . . Because I couldn't get a jury of my peers! I've lived in this state long enough to know that," Gotay said following his first court appearance Wednesday.Gotay, 47, Sandy, pleaded guilty to assault, a class B misdemeanor, and attempted aggravated assault, a class A misdemeanor, after waiving a preliminary hearing before 3rd District Judge William Barrett. He is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 17.
Gotay faces up to 18 months in jail, but defense attorney James Haskins said he expects Gotay, who has no prior criminal record, will receive probation.
"We agreed to the plea based on the fact Paul had a gun in his hand," Haskins said. However, the gun had "no cartridge in it."
According to a Salt Lake police report, on Feb. 3 eight LDS missionaries were helping Gregory Singer move his belongings out of Gotay's office building, 357 E. 200 East. Gotay had previously evicted Singer from the building, and Singer was not supposed to be on his property, Haskins said.
Haskins, who has an office in the building and witnessed part of the incident, said Gotay went down to the second floor after hearing a big "ruckus." The missionaries, dressed in street clothes for the service project, were "running around" and "banging on walls," he said.
"It was a circus downstairs," Haskins said. "There were no halos, there were no name tags."
When Gotay noticed Singer trying to remove a telephone system box, an argument ensued. The argument began to escalate until Singer's wife intervened, the police report states.
"As they argued, Singer said he had a gun and was going to get it," the report states. "Gotay told him that then he would go get his gun also."
When Gotay returned holding a small gun, Singer was gone. Gotay ordered the missionaries out of his building, but they refused to leave, Haskins said.
Gotay apparently became "enraged" at the missionaries' reluctance to leave and, while yelling, pushed a missionary and "pointed the gun into (his) stomach when he did not comply," the report states. Before the missionaries left, Gotay allegedly also threw a two-liter bottle at the group and threatened them with a piece of metal.
Later, Gotay approached another missionary coming back into the building and told him to leave while pointing a gun at him, the report states.
Police eventually arrived at the scene and took written statements from all the missionaries but failed to locate a gun in the building. "Facts are very consistent through-out all eight statements," the report states.