James William Pendleton and Ashley Ann Platt appeared before Judge George Harmond in Seventh District Court on Tuesday for their first appearance regarding murder charges.
Pendleton, 39, is charged with murder, a first degree felony, aggravated kidnapping, a first degree felony, criminal conspiracy, a second degree felony, and aggravated assault, a third degree felony. Platt, 21, is facing the same charges, minus the third degree felony of aggravated assault.
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.”
During the appearance, the duo was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct 15. At the hearing, it will be determined if the cases will be taken to trial or if charges will be reduced.
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 Brian William Swink.
Pendleton was taken into custody at the scene. Allegedly, Michael John 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, Platt and Dees each played a role in Swink’s death, which ultimately resulted in murder charges.