Three individuals were charged with murder on Wednesday in Seventh District Court for their involvement in the July 29 death of Brian William Swink, 32.
James Pendleton, 39, Michael John Dees, 38, and Ashley Ann Platt, 21, were each charged with murder, aggravated kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Pendleton was also charged with aggravated assault. If convicted, each suspect will face five years to life in prison for the murder charge alone.
According to Carbon County Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Humes, charges were filed based upon the legal theory called the felony murder rule, which states that a person who commits a felony resulting in a death is criminally liable for the death.
“The charges were based upon this legal theory, not based upon alleged or admitted acts,” Humes explained. “Usually, if a person is convicted of murder, they will serve 15 years to life.”
According to police reports, Pendleton called public safety dispatch at approximately 11 a.m. on July 29 stating that he had beat up a man and that the man was locked in the basement of a Price home and the house was on fire.
When police and fire crews arrived on scene, Pendleton allegedly said that the man locked in the basement was armed with a gun. This delayed rescue crews from immediately fighting the blaze.
Once police personnel determined the scene was safe, firefighters entered the home and discovered a deceased body that was later identified as Swink.
Pendleton was taken into custody at the scene. Allegedly, Dees and Platt fled the scene before authorities arrived, but were quickly taken into custody following the fire.
After further investigation, police were able to determine that Pendleton, Dees and Platt each played a role in Swink’s death, which ultimately resulted in murder charges.