UTAH STATE PRISON — An American Fork man who was sent to prison when he was 19 and spent 30 years behind bars was released Tuesday from the Utah State Prison.
Frank Gene Powell is now 49. He ran over and killed a man following a fight over whose truck was faster.
On Nov. 29, 1987, Powell was 19 and at a house party in Pleasant Grove where alcohol was being served. He and Glen Candland, 20, got into an argument over whose truck was faster. The argument spilled over to the parking lot outside the party.
Powell and Candland were arguing and threatening each other during the entire party, according to witnesses. Toward the end of the night, the two were again threatening each other in the parking lot. When Powell got into his truck to leave, he ran over Candland, killing him.
Powell, who was charged with second-degree murder, took a plea deal in 1988 and pleaded guilty to reduced charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison. Even if he had served the maximum, he would have been released in 2003.Comment on this story
But in 1990, he claimed he did not fully understand the terms of his agreement and asked to withdraw his guilty plea. He said the prison term was more than he was led to believe it would be. The Utah Supreme Court eventually allowed Powell to take back his plea and stand trial on the original charge. But this time, in 1992, Powell was convicted of the more severe murder charge and was sentenced to five years to life in prison. He again tried to appeal to the Supreme Court but was rejected.
During his last parole hearing in November, Powell told the board that a macho demeanor and selfish actions when he was 19 fueled his attitude. Today, he says he is more mature and has empathy for others.
Still, Candland's family members told the board at the last hearing that they didn't want Powell to ever be released from prison.