James Pendleton has accepted a plea bargain involving nine cases including a murder case from July 29 when authorities found his cousin dead in the basement of a home that had caught fire.
Pendleton, 40, along with Michael John Dees and Ashley Ann Platt, were each charged with murder, aggravated kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the death of Brian William Swink. Pendleton was also charged with aggravated assault. On Friday, Pendleton entered no-contest pleas to attempted manslaughter and attempted kidnapping, both third degree felonies, each carrying up to five years in prison.
Pendleton also accepted deals in a handful of other cases including charges of attempted witness tampering, a class A misdemeanor; assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony; assault, class A misdemeanor; possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony; and attempted possession of items prohibited in a correctional facility, a class A misdemeanor.
In exchange for Pendleton’s pleas, three cases that involved charges of retaliation against a witness, failure to stop at the command of police and assault were dismissed.
According to Carbon County Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Humes, charges were filed based upon the legal theory called the felony murder rule. It 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.
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.
Pendleton was recently sentenced in Emery County to serve up to five years in prison for theft. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Carbon County on June 11.
Platt, 22, and Dees, 39, still face charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the death of Swink. The duo is scheduled to go to trial July 20.